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Full text of "Omni Magazine (May 1994)"













First Word 

By Bill Nye 




By Martin Hill 



By Janel Bladow 
Good cop, bad cop 

Electronic Universe 

By Gregg Keizer 

By Jessica Cohen 


By Jeffrey Zygmont 

Short irip 

in a solar car 



By Nina L. Diamond 

_ Tropical storms 

and scientific advances 



By Robert K. J. Killheffer 



By Hunter Whitney 



By Scot Morris 


Last Word 

By Peter Callahan 

There's a new world risirg, technologically enhanced and 

potentially empowering. Does humankind really 
stand at the forefront, enlightencc by our infoculture, or 

does Tsuneo Sanda's illusiration suggest 
something more sinister? (Additional credits, page 87) 


Lucy's Father 

By Sharon McAuliffe 

Under the 

guidance of paleo- 


Donald Jonanson, who 

"unearthed "Lucy" 

20 years before, the clan 

of our earliest 

ancestors continues 

to grow. 



By Janet Stit.es 

■ There seems 

to be a pattern here: 


research at the Santa 

Fe Institute. 

Cosmic Conspiracy: 
Part Two 

By Dennis Stacy 


cover-ups of multiple 


in the 1950s 


Black Drongo 

By Garry K ,: worth 



Margie Profet 

By Shari Rudavsky 



The how, what, when, where, and why of wind 

By Bill Nye 

Bill Hsre 

the Science Bay 

left His 

put on his lab 

coal, and 

look to Ihe air- 


Because be 


(o show hitis 

same tan. 

#% s I looked past my 
jljam^, sneakers, I saw a love- 
a m ly picture of a big 

green field complete with minia- 
ture cows and barbed-wire 
fences a few hundred meters 
below me. I was grateful that my 
parachute was wide open. If 
you've ever done this, you've 
experienced air molecules 
working their way around your 
canopy and keeping you from 
"landing" too fast. The forces at 
work are astonishing. 

Jumping out of a perfectly 
good airplane into thin cold air is 
not something I had ever really 
thought much about doing. But it 
occurred to me to be the perfect 
way to let our television audience 
know that today's show would be 
about wind. I am the host of a 
science show for kids (of all 
ages) called Bill Nye the Science 

Guy (that would be me). 

See, when we're talking about 
falling toward the earth and be- 
ing held up by air, we're talking 
about gravity. It pulls us down, 
and it slows us up, because 
gravity is what holds the air and 
us on the earth. 

Imagine painting a baseball. 
That's about how thick our 
atmosphere is compared to the 
earth. Even though the atmos- 
phere is thin, near sea level 
there's roughly a ton of air mole- 
cules over our heads. When 
you're hanging over a field or 
watching the wind rustle the 
leaves on a tree, it strikes you 
that the air in our atmosphere is 
pretty wild. 

Most of the time we don't think 
about air. We breathe it automati- 
cally (ahh), and we look right 
through it (hmrn), unless we're 
noticing clouds or smoke or the 
pasture coming toward us 
(whoa!). Birds, blizzards, bats, 
thunder, planes, and parachutes 
all conduct their business in the 
atmosphere. It's a word from 
Greek that means "ball of air." So 
weather is happening in a great 
big shell, and it's not quite 
smooth. It's full of huge bumps 
and waves. All those hurricanes, 
tornadoes, snow storms, and 
good kite days are powerful pile- 
ups of air. 

Imagine a glass baking dish 
full of water, with one-half of the 
dish sitting on a stove burner and 
the other half on a hot potholder. 
When the burner is on, the water 
circulates. It rises over the burn- 
er and sinks over the potholder. 
The same thing happens on our 
planet. Energy from the sun 
makes the air at the equator rise. 
The sun is the burner; the ice 
caps and night are the pothold- 
er. Our air moves in huge circuits 
or Hadley cells, named for the 
scientist who first proposed them 
as the reason for trade winds. 

Every hour of every day, 
almost 200 billion megawatt- 
hours of sunshine land on the 
earth — enough energy to power 
every city on Earth about 10,000 
times over. That's the energy that 
puts rainwater behind dams. It 
can make a lot of wind. It's no 
wonder boats can easily sail any- 
where they like on the sea. 

The only thing over the atmos- 
phere is nothing — space. So the 
air sloshes and surges, forming 
enormous bulges and depres- 
sions. Air flows from the thick 
parts of the atmosphere to the 
thin parts. It moves downhill. Can 
you blame it? This big sloshing is 
what makes wind and weather. 

Okay, heating and cooling of 
the atmosphere make wind, but 
what makes spinning storms? 
Where do all those swirling air 
masses and steady breezes get 
their direction? It's not all north 
and south, for cryin' out loud. Get 
a piece of paper or card stock 
(rnanila-folder material), and spin 
it around a thumbtack. Stick it to 
a cardboard box or kitchen table 
suitable for this kind of er , . . uh, 
"research." If you have a phono- 
graph record player, that's better 
yet. Try drawing a straight line. 
You can't. Straight motions curve 
on turning things. Let's say 
you're an air molecule and you're 
moving in a big wind cell. Well, 
the earth is turning, so you end 
up moving in a curve. If there are 
enough molecules, we get a 
storm. The curving motion is 
called Coriolis motion. It's named 
after the mathematician who first 
figured it out. 

With all that energy coming 
here from the sun and all that 
energy in the earth's spin, it's no 
wonder sailors can see the 
world, kite strings can tug kids, 
and planes and parachutes turn 
into the wind to land. It's energy 
from the sun. Take a deep breath 
and think it over. Wind is wild. DO 




Questioning race matters, misguided intentions, and 

the impassable icons of science 



l*m Rubber; You're Glue 

Greg Meyerson's unremiUing pessi- 
mism [First Word, February 1994], ap- 
parently anticipating a continuation of 
today's admittedly unsatisfactory racial 
situation, is depressing. I would hope 
that even the most ardent supporters of 
affirmative action will some day be will- 
ing to state what criteria must be met 
to render this practice unnecessary. 
And, although I may be misinterpreting 
what Meyerson is saying, his apparent 
support of Sista Soulja's position that 
"Blacks can't be racist because they 
don't have the power of White suprem- 
acy" overlooks the fact that racism usu- 
ally comes from feelings of fear and in- 
feriority. Many of the most overt racists 
in America are "losers," filled with feel- 
ings of inferiority — and all the more vi- 
cious as a result. "Supremacy" is in the 
eye of the beholder. 

John Michael Kittross 
Acton, MA 

You've got to be getting back at me for 
watching Rush Limbaugh. "Nearly 100 
percent of Americans do not think the 
American flag is a symbol of imperial- 
ism," Meyerson scoffs. He looks like a 
kid. He wasn't even born yet when I 
helped liberate Europe from the Nazis. 
Does he know that at the end of WWII 
we had mobilized nearly a hundred infan- 
try divisions? Does he know that we 
were the only nation that possessed 
atomic weapons and had the means to 
deliver them to any target anywhere on 
Earth? We could have taken the whole 
shebang. Our latest venture, the Per- 
sian Gulf — did we confiscate one bar- 
rel of oil? Imperialists, he says. "White 
people don't get . . . lynched by the 
thousands. . . ." Meyerson goes on. 
I've read the LA. Times and watched 
the local news for 20 years and haven't 
seen one reference to a lynching of a 
Black person by a White person. 
Blacks shoot down whites in car-jack- 
ings. Blacks assassinate Korean mer- 
chants. Blacks blast away at one and 
all in drive-by shootings. If any Whites 
are out there lynching Blacks, it's got 
to be the best kept secret in L.A. 

George H. McCarty 
Highland, CA 

From The Trenches 
Dr. Francis Crick's achievement in mo- 
lecular biology cannot be ignored [In- 
terview, February 1994]; however, his 
ability to muse on the existence of the 
soul is shortsighted. His rationalizations 
are almost zany and remind me of a 
right-wing authoritarian scientist whose 
religion is logic and who has lost his ab- 
stract thinking. It's the entrenched old 
timers like Crick who wear the double 
mask of fair scientific thinking when in 
reality they don't give credence or 
time to other fields. On the contrary, 
these "ivory tower icons" act more like 
"Senecs" then the ministers of wisdom 
they could be. 

Kevin Fischang 
Saugerties, NY 

Guilt by Administration 

"Unhealthy Alliances" by Linda Marsa 
[February 1 994] is factually correct but 
ends with a cure worse than the dis- 
ease. The disease is the FDA. Ms. Mar- 
sa concludes that the cure is more pow- 
er to the FDA. The FDA does a very 
poor job of policing and handling 
large companies as evidenced as far 
back as the thalidomide debacle 
where firms hid the evidence of birth de- 
fects. More power to the FDA will not 
make the FDA more courageous in fight- 
ing against the big guy, the drug com- 
panies. The FDA does a Draconian job 
of persecuting the little guy who wants 
nothing more than to sell vitamin sup- 
plements. Some doctors have actually 
been put in jail for being vitamin advo- 
cates. The cure is an ombudsman out- 
side the FDA, empowered to protect the 
little guy — you and me. 

Marvin I. Lewis 
Philadelphia, PADQ 

Got something to say but no time to 
write? Call (900) 285-5483. Your 
comments will be recorded and may 
appear in an upcoming issue of 
Omni. The cost for the call is 95 
cents per minute. You must be age 
18 or older. Touch-tone phones on- 
ly. Sponsored by Pure Entertain- 
ment, P.O. Box 166. Hollywood, 
California 90078. 



Urban paleontologists find rare fossils in the wake of bulldozers 

By Martin Hill 

8n May 1987, Brad Riney 
climbed into a pipeline trench 
being dug in Carlsbad, Califor- 
nia, and came nose to hipbone 
with a dinosaur. The nearly intact 
skeleton of a nodosaur was a re- 
Paleomofagis? markable find; scientists had 
BratiSSiiteu never turned up nodosaur re- 
Oar rignl) and mains west of the Rockies. 

colieagus Riney, a paleontolcg st with 

RiGfoard CernRI the San Diego consulting firm 
helDSil PaleoServices, would probably 
excavate a never have made his discovery 
JiBiiosauf but for a small section of the 
skeleton faifml California Environmental Quality 
ifiatrencii Act (CEQA) and "salvage pah 
in Way 1987, ontology" — a form of urban fossi 
hunting that in the last two dec- 
ades has literally filled warehous- 
es with the remains of Califor- 
nia's prehistoric past. 

Salvage paleontology in- 
volves following earth-moving 
equipment at construction sites, 
looking for promising signs of 
fossils. The heavy equipment un- 
covers thousands, sometimes 
millions, of cubic yards of un- 
weaihered, fossil-bearing rocks 
in a relatively short time. "A bull- 
dozer can expose in a day what 
it would take Mother Nature a 
hundred years to reveal," ex- 
plains Tom Demere, curator of 
paleontology at the San Diego 
Natural History Museum and a 
co-founder of PaleoServices. 

Finding fossils at construction 
sites is not a new phenomenon. 
But with CEQA's passage in the 
early 1970s, California became 
the first state to require builders 
to assess excavated areas and 
then hire certified paleontologists 
If needed to salvage fossil 
remains prior to building. 

The CEQA provisions were 
first put to use in 1972 when for- 
mer Los Angeles County Natural 
History Museum paleontologist 
Paul Kirkland was hired as a 
"paleo monitor" by a developer 
in Orange County. "Paul was' one 
of the very first people to go to a 

construction site to collect fos- 
sils," notes Mark Roeder, part 
owner of the Costa Mesa con- 
sulting firm Paleo Environmental 
Associates. "He really paved the 
way for others to follow." 

Southern California experi- 
enced a building boom in the 
1980s, speeding the spread of 
salvage paleontology throughout 
the state. The results have been 
startling. San Diego County, for 
instance, was never considered 
a prime hunting ground for verte- 
brate fossils. But Demere, forag- 
ing his first construction site, 
turned up the Pliocene-age 
remains of ten species of baleen 
whales, 11 species of tooth 
whales, two species of walrus, 
and 40 different species of sea- 
birds, making it one of the most 
diverse finds for that epoch. 

The amount of salvage pale- 
ontology now being done in the 
state is mindboggling, says 
Steve Conklin, a paleontologist 
with LSA Associates, an environ- 
mental analysis firm in Orange 
County. A prestigious center like 
the Smithsonian Institution, for 
example, may have three or four 
vertebrate paleontologists who 
go out on digs perhaps three 
months a year. In Orange County 
alone, Conklin says, 35 certified 

paleos "constantly collect fossils 
twelvemonths a year." 

Most of that material goes to 
local museums. In San Diego, 
salvaged fossils fill dozens of 
shelves and drawers at the nat- 
ural history museum. Yet De- 
mere's paleos spend so much 
time just collecting fossils that 
they haven't had time to write 
many papers on their findings — 
just 15 to 20 papers so far. 

Fossils found in Orange 
County, which doesn't have a 
staffed natural-history museum, 
get stored in, among other 
places, a 10,000-square-foot 
warehouse, which, Conklin says, 
is "completely full, You can't roll 
carts into the building anymore." 

A subcommittee within the 
Society of Vertebrate Paleontol- 
ogy recently drafted guidelines 
to regulate how much cleaning 
and cataloging developers and 
their paleo consultants must do 
before turning fossils over to a 
museum. Too much of that costly 
work is currently left to organiza- 
tions unable to afford it. 

"The point is to save the fos- 
sils," explains Bob Reynolds, a 
paleo with the San Bernardino 
County Museum. "You're not sav- 
ing the fossils if you just dump 
them in a parking lot. "DO 

I U 11:1 


The temptations of the undercover cop 

By Janel Bladow 

9 n the movie Rush, the female 

| undercover narcotics agent 

18 sits curled up in a corner so 

strung out on heroin, she can't 

tell what's real or hallucination. 

She's a police officer doing her 

job, she tells herself. Or, is she 

what she looks like? — a wasted 

ASCSfieifM) drug addict. When did she cross 

Ba$ii, a the thin line that distinguishes the 

llltn abetft a good guys from the bad? 

narcaliGS That fine line— and what 

afjed il> ffOliJjIe. makes an undercover cop cross 

"Ulldec- over it— is territory Michael 

cover," Claims Girodo has explored in a 15-year 

;;:■",«;".!.' ; study of more than 200 under- 

MiGliaei Girodo, 

"art ageiri 

cJ'ra ms ;■)«! 


rfcfi Id Btnnants 
of power. 

admiration and 


cover agents. A professor of psy- 
chology at the University of 
Ottawa, Canada, he has been a 
visiting professor at the FBI 
Academy in Quantico, Virginia, 
since last July. Using interviews, 
psychological tests, and agents' 
responses to role-playing situa- 
tions, Girodo concludes that the 
personality traits making a good 
undercover officer are often the 
same ones predisposing him or 
her to corruption and psychologi- 
cal distress. 

Girodo found that officers 
best suited for undercover work 
are fast talking, risk taking, and 
assertive. The job description 
also involves manipulation, de- 
ception, and lying — characteris- 
tics hardly considered virtues by 
most people. Yet the person en- 
joys it- — indeed, is selected by 

the agencies because people 
who enjoy these risks make the 
best undercover officers. It's up 
to the cop's style and wits to get 
him- or herself in with the crimi- 
nals and stay in. People adapt- 
able to a wide range of roles 
seem to have "a native talent for 
misrepresentation and guise]" he 
says. "For this small but notewor- 
thy percentage of agents, the 
undercover field offers rich 
opportunities to indulge natural 
inclinations to con." 

The agent gathers information 
before criminal activity takes 
place, seeing it unfold before his 
eyes. While other cops come in 
after the act, the undercover offi- 
cer has a hand in making the 
crime happen, "He becomes one 
of them," Girodo continues. "But 
the criminals get caught, while 
he gets away with buying and 
selling drugs, say, and the gov- 
ernment sanctions it." 

After these situations happen 
over and over again, the agent 
may start believing his fawn lines, 
thinking the criminals are his 
friends, confusing right and 
wrong. "To sustain the insults he 
gets, maintain his motivation, he 
often has lots of money, clothes, 
liberty. He's reimbursed for his 
alcoholic expenses. It's a heady 
experience, especially if he's re- 
warded for it," says Girodo. Para- 
doxically, he needs that arro- 
gance and self-confidence to be 
convincing. As he commands 
increasing influence, he dreams 
of appearing on GO Minutes and 
having a movie made of his 
adventures. He feels entitled to 
special favors, treatment, and 
dispensations, There are out- 
bursts with bosses, abuses in 

Psychologists might say this 
character has a personality dis- 
order, but these components are 
nurtured and developed in un- 
dercover work. The work pre- 

dicts misconduct. "The longer 
you're on the job, the greater the 
odds that you're going to get into 
trouble," Girodo says. "At the 
same time, no vice commander 
is going to let some skilled, valu- 
able resource, go. The agent is 
the asset they need." So the per- 
sonality continues to change, 

After the cowboy comes the 
prima donna. Then, less visibly, 
he begins to develop his own 
laws. The exception becomes 
the norm, Since he's scamming 
all the time, he begins to think 
everyone has a scam. So enam- 
ored of a role, he may refuse to 
abandon it. Girodo recounts a 
classic case: "An undercover 
officer about to retire was to go 
into a counterfeit money opera- 
tion, flash a roll of $80,000, and 
20 minutes later get back out. He 
went in without a wire and was to 
signal his support team. The guy 
stayed in the room two and a half 
hours. The bosses were frantic. 
When he finally came out, he 
explained, 'This was my last job. 
I didn't want to give up my role. 
They enjoyed me. They really 
liked me!' " 

There are no precise figures 
on how many undercover agents 
are corrupted, says Girodo, "but 
I do know the number is far 
greater than what police and the 
public are willing to accept. And 
it's increasing all the time." 

How can an agent avoid the 
temptations? "Best is a solid 
home life, of course," says Gir- 
odo, who is creating programs to 
train agents to become more 
aware of psychological risks in- 
herent in their personalities and 
work. "We get them to slow 
down, take greater cognitive re- 
sponsibility for their actions." 
They also make "public confes- 
sions" in front of other agents. 
"No one wants to do something 
stupid in front of his or her 
peers," he adds. DO 



A ratings system for electronic entertainment may only be the easy way out 

By Gregg Keizer 

fttlng to diipsl 

the fury 

aver Bis sex ami 


Siai's found In 

laiaeSesf 3f km. 

They're the best evidence 
yet that the apocalypse 
is upon us. They pro- 
mote violence among kids; they 
play to our most prurient inter- 
ests; they have less socially 
redeeming value than a 24-hour 
stretch of MTV. 

No, we're not talking about 
Beavis and Butt-head. We're 
talking about videogames, the 
things that put Sonic and Mario 
on school lunchboxes. 

Digital fun and its impact 
made the news, big time, late in 


oflleials oni 

for seW- 

cssrssorsRijf in Hie 

form Gf a 

ratings system, 

Bui such s 

mave may {trove 

to baa 



1993. Whether it was in the cold 
and often uninformed question- 
ing of a Senate hearing or in the 
after-Christmas-sale-siyie rush of 
publishers to defend their prod- 
ucts, the face of censorship 
peeked through the pixels of 
electronic entertainment. 

When the going got tough 
before the Senate Judiciary and 
Government Affairs Committee 

last December, game publishers 
got ratings religion. Faced with 
the prospect of government con- 
trols, a coalition of publishers 
and dealers proposed a regime 
of self-censorship, a ratings 
strategy that for all intents and 
purposes mirrored what Sega 
had established earlier in the 
year. Games would be rated GA 
for a general audience, MA-13 
for a 'more mature audience over 
13, and MA-17 for those over 17, 
Even that wasn't enough to molli- 
fy Senator Joseph Lieberman (D, 
Connecticut), one of the commit- 
tee's co-chairs, who called it "the 
least the videogame industry can 
do, not the best it can do." 

The furor stems from the fact 
that— right or wrong — electronic' 
entertainment is perceived as a 
kid thing. Ratings aren't enough, 
so the line goes, to keep vio- 
lence- and sex-heavy games 
from poking phosphors through 
kids' eyes. Lieberman was 
adamant about that. "It would be 
far better for parents arrd kids if 
the industry simply kept the gory 
violence and sex out of their 
games," he said. 

The senator's missing the 
point. Computer games and 
videogames are not Just for kids 
any more than movies are just for 
preteens. Nor is a tiered ratings 
structure thai caters to children's 
concerns a long-term solution, 
since — unlike relatively stable 
forms of entertainment such as 
films and music — digital games 
are a moving target. The market 
may be powered by videogames 
for kids now, but it won't be for 
long. Thanks to games on CD — 
for computers, for the more 
expensive machines like 3DO 
and SegaCD — and, when ii 
comes along, to digital entertain- 
ment delivered over cable or 
phone lines, adults will soon be 
driving sales. 

This is not to say there aren't 

games unfit for kids. There are. 
But there is a better way to han- 
dle the problem than a lock-step 
ratings system that, at best, is in- 
consistent and misleading. How 
else are we to describe a system 
that gives a shoot-'em-up like 
Soldiers of Fortune a GA but 
hands an MA-13 to a straightfor- 
ward boxing game like Sega's 

Instead, publishers and retail- 
ers and parents' groups should 
get together and nail down one 
label: NC— "not for children." 
Games carrying adult themes 
and adult stories should be so 
marked. Retailers should enforce 
the rating, as theaters do now, 
by refusing to sell such games to 
anyone under 18. 

As for "other games, publish- 
ers should note content of their 
wares with clear phrases like 
"graphic violence" and "adult 
language" and be smart enough 
to advertise such games honest- 
ly. That means running ads in 
forums other than those aimed at 
kids — as are many videogame 
magazines and cable channels 
like Nickelodeon. It means being 
up-front in presentation, packag- 
ing, and box copy, not hiding a 
killing fest inside cartoon graph- 
ics, expecting the violence to be 
somehow less objectionable. 
That means providing some real 
information to anyone trying to 
determine what is or is not objec- 
tionable material for themselves 
or their children. 

It may not be a perfect sys- 
tem, but it does spread out the 
responsibility and make every- 
one, from publishers to parents, 
pay attention. It's not the easiest 
way out — that would be to just let 
someone else decide what's 
good and what's not — but it's the 
best way to ensure no one gets 
cut out of the electronic enter- 
tainment of today. And of the 
future. DO 



A look into the future of fashion 

By Jessica Cohen 

Clintons \wk 

like am'!. 

nms m lasft 

Eat, Huts 

Mi Brings a 


g&hh el paee 

io men's 


ffillsi itowi 

fdal power 

dressing tor 


tonal tan 

ra («: 'Ml 

Science fiction may not 
have a great track rec- 
ord ai predicting devel- 
opments in technology or poli- 
tics — nobody, for instance, 
foresaw the rapid miniaturization 
of computer power — but it has 
an even worse record when it 
comes to fashion. The futuristic 
uniforms portrayed on Star Trek 
and in endless SF movies amuse 
fashion forecaster Haysun A. 
Hahn, creative marketing direc- 
tor of Promostyl USA. "You'd 
think we'll all be wearing uncom- 
fortable molded rubber outfits," 
she laughs. Rather, she predicts, 
"clothes will express individuality 
and be flexible enough to do 
whatever we want whenever we 
want. Fabric will be pliable, liq- 
uid, a material that responds to 
our imagination so you can" wear 
fuzz in the summer, no coat in 
the winter: We won't need so 
many clothes." 

That vision might seem elu- 
sive, but several social, econom- 
ic, and technological trends 
point toward an increasingly 
comfortable, versatile clothing 
style that evades narrow fashion 
dictates. The election of Pres- 
ident Bill Clinton is both an ex- 
pression and a reinforcement of 
this emerging Zeitgeist, accord- 
ing to fashion pundits. "The em- 
phasis on a casual lifestyle has 
to do with a broad democratiza- 
tion that's been going on 
throughout the century. There's 
been a societal trend not to 
place as much emphasis on 
clothing to express status and 
formality," says consumer behav- 
ior specialist Gernd Schmitt, 
associate professor of business 
at Columbia University. 

So it was that the voters oust- 
ed aristocrat George Bush and 
instated Bill Clinton, who sports a 
more casual style. According to 
Tom Julian of the Fashion Asso- 
ciation, "Clinton is showing that 

you can loosen up, wear a softly 
constructed suit with no vents, 
beesom pockets, low-notched 
lapel, and feel good in it. The 
guy has a very strong presence 
when you're looking at him in a 
sea of traditionally cut blue 
suits." Julian adds that informal 
surveys show that where five 
years ago men's retailers sold 
two suits for every sport coat, 
today it's two sport coats for 
every suit. 

The spirit of the 
Clinton Administra- 
tion may be rever- 
berating in women's 
fashion, too. Though 

apparel choices 

panned, her atti- 
tude foreshad- 
ows the working 
woman's tuture, 
according to Lorye 

Watson, fashion historian at 
Parsons Institute of Design. "She 
goes to people she trusts, gets 
serviceable clothes in wonderful 
colors, wears them over and 
over, and doesn'tspend a lot of 
time on it. That's what thinking 
women are doing." 

Ruth P, Rubinstein, a profes- 
sor of sociology at the New York 
Fashion Institute of Technology, 
provides a broader view of cur- 
rent fashion trends set by the 
First Lady. She describes the 
look as "power dressing" — that 
is, more professional, less vul- 
nerable, and less revealing, "If 
you look at the vocabulary of 
imulated in Western 
society," she explains, "you'll 
note that when people feel pow- 
erless' or- vulnerable, their bodies 
are more exposed," 

The future may see much less 
differentiation between men's 
and women's fashions as well. 
Crossovers in fabric and color 
reflect the changing roles of men 
and women in our society. And 
wrth the emphasis on versatility 
and comfort, new synthetic fab- 
rics will become increasingly 
important. Promostyl USA's Hahn 
xpects to see fabrics that 
"function on their own." 
For example, "mod fab- 
" now in development, 
beads woven in that 
adjust heating and cooling 
to body temperature. 
She also foresees 
clothes that won't 
need finishing seams 
when sewn nor drying 
when washed, stretch 
materials that fit all, 
and even fibers with 
intrinsic fragrance. 

Future fashion? It 
may not be Star Fleet 
uniforms, but, hey, we 
don't have to dress 
like George Bush 



Solar cars juice up their engines and take to .the road 

By Jeffrey Zygmont 

II my no) 
iia lite JasSes! 

<;,:<.>. m the 
track, bul ttu 

Sungo is 

evfiryMng M 

a C8f SilBlitti 

be— area! i«n! 

Seasoned automobilist 
ihai I am, I nonetheless 
fell for romantic fallacy 
that a drive in a sun-powered car 
would strip away layers of intru- 
sive mechanism, revealing a 
mystically serene, simple and 
direct association between ener- 
gy and motion. 

Instead, my first-trip in a solar 
car proved as thrilling as push- 
ing a 400-horsepower internally 
combusting Corvette around a 
race track. The excitement stems 
from a subliminal sense of terror, 
from the perception of motion far 
faster than your limbs are de- 
signed to take you. 

Cruising at only 25 miles per 
hour in Sungo, the tear-shaped, 
two-seat commuter built by stu- 
dents at New Hampshire Tech- 
nical Institute, I still felt the thrill of 
near danger. Its eggcrate-thin 
fiberglass foam body let in deci- 
bels of road noise, while its go- 
cart seats suspended me just 
inches above the street, Sungo's 
electric motor and drive belts 
whined, rumbled, and groaned 
behind me, while the ka-chunk of 
the suspension rattled my ribs. 
The noises compounded with the 
Inner-ear impulse to hold on 
tightly as the car tossed around 
corners and to brace with my 
legs as it pitched to a stop— all 
told, a cacophony of sensations 
aggregating into as much fun as 
a person can have in a vehicle, 
no matter how it's powered. 

None of that should deride 
Sungo. The car placed second in 
the commuter category of the 
1993 American Tour de Sol, a 
combination road rally and dem- 
onstration program sponsored 
by the Northeast Sustainable En- 
ergy Association. 

Sungo's shortcomings spread 
across the entire solar-car field. 
The daunting challenges of col- 
lecting enough energy from the 
sun, providing batteries to hold 
it, converting it to motive force, 
and carrying everything on a 
lightweight, maneuverable plat- 
form leave scant resources for 
the amenities the motoring public 
expects in automobiles. To any- 
one who harbors hopes of ever 
using full solar power for person- 
al transport, the hazards and 
temperaments of today's experi- 
mental models present rather 
high hurdles. 

The cars don't begin to meet 
the Federal Highway Safety 
Standards that stipulate, for in- 
stance, that an auto's front end 
must absorb the full impact of a 
crash at up to 30 miles per hour. 
"Solar racers are about as safe 
as aerial gliders," says Michael 
R. Seal, director of the Vehicle 
.Research Institute at Western 
Washington University. "They're 
quite large [providing surface 
area for solar panels], and 
they're incredibly light." 

Even though they're shaped 
for sun exposure, solar electrics 
recharge their batteries very 
slbwly, limited by the energy 
available in sunrays. Seal ex- 
plains that solar energy at the 
earth's surface equates to one 
kilowatt per square meter, and 
the efficiency of the best solar 
cells allows them to collect only 
about a fifth of it. Consequently, 
cars with ungainly collector pan- 
els, exposed to ten hours of sun- 
light, will still only acquire a maxi- 
mum of ten horsepower hours 

worth of energy, he estimates — 
enough for about an hour of driv- 
ing. "Even if you park it in the sun 
all day in Arizona," says Seal, 
"it's not going to bring in that 
much energy." 

And when the sun doesn't 
shine, forget it. Full-solar racing 
entries in last May's American 
Tour de Sol were allowed to plug 
into wall outlets at night when 
cloudy weather plagued the 
seven-day event. If they hadn't 
used power from the commercial 
electricity grid, they would never 
have finished on schedule. 

Pragmatists, including Seal, 
concur that the most we'll get 
from the sun for transportation is 
supplemental energy. Already 
you can buy a Mazda 929 with a 
solar collector providing power 
for a fan that ventilates the car 
when parked. During cold weath- 
er, the electricity recharges the 
automobile's battery. 

Sun worshipers who expect 
the technology to do more than 
add comfort to luxury sedans 
can take heart in work underway 
in thermal photovoltaics at West- 
ern Washington and elsewhere. 

Building on its solar program 
and incorporating research by 
former Boeing engineers, West- 
ern Washington expects to pro- 
duce a thermal photovoliaic car 
by early 1996. It will use a burner 
to combust natural gas about 2 
fo 2.5 inches from photovoltaic 
cells, exposing them to the 
equivalent of 1,000 suns, says 
Seal. It's not that the low-emis- 
sion, steady-state burner is more 
powerful than ol' sol, but the 93- 
million-mile trek diminishes sun- 
rays' power. 

Transportation- is not a gift 
from Ra or any of the other gods. 
It is a wholly human enterprise, a 
product of our ingenuity and 
determination. Anyone who 
doubts it should hop in for a spin 
in a sun car.00 


Finding cures among the wreckage of a hurricane 

By Nina L. Diamond 

For those who look for the 
proverbial silver lining in 
the cloud of disaster. 
Hurricane Andrew's devastation 
may have something going for it 
after ail. 

When the storm hit back in 
August 1992, Fairchild Tropical 
Garden lay right in its path. The 
83-acre botanical paradise, 
home to 13,000 individual plants 
and trees from tropical regions 

all over the world, had long been 
considered one of the premiere 
living collections on the planet, 
featuring the world's largest col- 
lection of palms and cyads and 
many one-of-a-kind specimens. 
Ten percent of Fairchild's plants 
were so badly damaged by the 
storm that they couldn't be 
replanted, but fortunately, there 
is more to nature's bounty than 
meets the eye. 

"Once you strip away the 
beauty of the garden," explains 
William Klein, director of Fair- 
child, "you realize the real value 
of these plants. This is like a bio- 
logical library. All the 'books' — 
the plants — have been checked 
in here over a 60-year period, 
and those that couldn't be 

restored can now be studied." 

f-n this one-stop shopping 
spree, medical researchers strip 
bark and take leaves, roots, and 
growing tips from the plants top- 
pled by the storm. They can get 
samples of exotic species from 
one convenient location instead 
of hunting them down across a 
handful of continents. Normally, 
botanical gardens wouldn't sacri- 
fice an entire tree to science, 
especially a rare one, but that 
ethical dilemma was removed by 
high-intensity winds. Within days 
of the hurricane, scientists con- 
verged at Fairchild to have a look 
at the debris. , 

"Scientists study how plants 
and trees wall off disease and 
heal their wounds," says Klein, 
"in the hope of applying what 
they learn to humans." 

Medicine has long looked to 
nature for healing. Penicillin, for 
instance, comes from bread 
molds, and aspirin, though now 
synthetically produced, originally 
derived from extracts pf the wil- 
low tree. To emphasize the medi- 
cinal value of plants, Klein states 
that "some 25 percent of pre- 
scriptive pharmaceuticals used 
today are derived from plants." 

Scientists are always looking 
to up that percentage. That's one 
of the reasons so many are out- 
raged by the destruction of the 
rain forests and other unique 
habitats. "Of the 250,000 species 
of flowering plants in the world 
that have been classified, only 
about 3 percent have been suffi- 
ciently studied to know what's in 
them," says Klein. "And there are 
another 50,000 or more species 
out there not even classified yet." 

The discovery and study of 
these plants can have a pro- 
found effect upon medical 
research. When University of 
Illinois botanist Dr. D. D. Soejar- 
to, working in conjunction with 
the National Cancer Institute, 

found an anti-AIDS compound in 
the sap of a tree growing in a 
Malaysian rain forest a couple of 
years ago, scientists were elat- 
ed. The compound, Calanolide 
A, was found to block the growth 
of HIV-I. However, when Soejarto 
returned to the Malaysian forest 
for more sap, he found that his 
precious tree had been cut 
down. Samples from other trees 
of the same species have not 

produced the same HIV-I block- 
ing activity. 

"That's the story of our life — or 
death," Klein says, lamenting the 
loss of the Malaysian tree, cut 
down by loggers who had no use 
for it but who cleared an entire 
area in order to claim the trees 
they did want. "The cure that 
needs to happen is the cure for 
human greed." 

Klein hopes that Fairchild 
Tropical Garden's loss to Hurri- 
cane Andrew will be our gain. 
"We're open to any scientists 
who want to come in and do re- 
search," he says. Scientists 
would have to travel the world 
for years to find what Fairchild 
can offer now — thanks, oddly 
enough, to Hurricane Andrew. DQ 


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■ . ,-: "."■' 


as the original Ultima' 
lutioriizedNES role- 
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Ultima- The False Prophet 1 ; adapted from the hit PC game, uses a 
powerful 8 meg memory chip to provide over 100 hours of real 
time gargoyle hunting, searching for hidden runes, solving puzzles, 
and deciphering moonstone magic in order to save Britannia. 

-Playing Adventure S 8 ZTITJT 

IPQtinPlI Tfl Rp I completely different activities 

ICOIIIICU 111 DG. for day and night. And just hi 

case you don't have 100 hours in a row to spare. Ultima 01 The False 

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When you're ready for the ultimate challenge, you're ready lor 

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It's What Role-Playing Adventure 
Was Always Destined To Be! 

Not Just Kid 

ITl " rl^l r 

Current reflections on the theory of- evolution 

By Robert K.J. Killheffer 

(af granted ijj 

v,\-,m w:» 


lufresg itf 

otters, Barwia's 

ifteoiv of enolis- 
lion siiil 

fsfcing feoti 

i ne hundred thirty-five 
| years ago, Charles Dar- 
" win published his mon- 
umental work On the Origin of 
the Species by Means of Natural 
Selection and thereby launched 
one of the most profound trans- 
formations of our culture. The 
basic concepts of his theory of 
evolution (or "the transmutation 
of species") have spread their 
influence as wide as Johnny's 
apple seeds: Darwinian ideas 
crop up in the way we think 
about society, history, personali- 
ty, and even art and literature. 

Still, despite its broad impact, 
half of the American public 
claims not to accept evolution as 
an explanation of the origins of 
life or humanity. How can such 
an important scientific idea — 
such a vital conceptual break- 
through — remain unappreciated 
by so many? 

One reason — perhaps the 
most tenacious — dates back to 
Darwin's time. Many people find 
evolution too cold and imperson- 
al a concept and feel that it strips 
our lives of grandeur, drama, 
and meaning. Obviously, to 
reach those people, the theory of 
evolution must be presented not 
merely as the most plausible sci- 
entific view, but as emotionally 
satisfying as well. 

Two recent coffee-table 
books may go some way toward 
bringing evolution home to more 
people. Take a look, for instance, 
at From So Simple a Beginning: 
The Book of Evolution 
by Philip Whitfield 
1993; $40.00). 
Full of colorful 
illustrations as 
well as detailed 
diagrams and 
charts, this book 
makes a strong 
for Roger Lewin's claim 
in the foreword that 

Darwinian evolution is "the most 
profound text that can be written 
about the nature of life." Whitfield 
begins with a look at the devel- 
opment of the concept of evolu- 
tion — from Darwin's time and 
before through more recent dis- 
coveries in genetics and bio- 
chemistry — and proceeds from 
there through the rise of life from 
simple organic chemicals and 
the appearance of simple micro- 
organisms and sea-life on up to 
iand-roving amphibians, early 
reptiles, dinosaurs (of course), 
and ultimately ourselves. Along 
the way, he describes the proc- 
ess of fossil formation, the bio- 
chemistry of evolution and muta- 
tion, and more, and he confronts 
various controversial issues such- 
as the pace of evolution (Is it a 
Darwinian process of gradual 
change or one of sudden bursts 
of mutation?), the role of mass 
extinctions (such as that which 
wiped out the dinosaurs), 


7 r D'C 

and the ethical questions raised 
by genetic engineering. All in all, 
Whitfield does an admirable job 
of communicating the excitement 
Darwin felt about evolution when 
he declared, "There is grandeur 
in this view of life." 

Stephen Jay Gould, the fore- 
most contemporary popularizer 
of evolutionary thinking, edits a 
volume that takes a somewhat 
different tack. The Book of Life: 
An Illustrated History 'of the Evo- 
lution of Life on Earth (W, W, 
Norton, 1993;. $40.00) includes 
chapters by leading experts on 
topics such as early ocean life, 
mammals, and dinosaurs, ac- 
companied by engaging illustra- 
tions done specifically for the 
book. With Gould at the helm, 
this book, surveys the "pageant" 
of life on Earth with verve and 
accuracy, highlighting controver- 
sial issues, but it's also con- 
cerned with examining the scien- 
tific process itself through the. 
of evolution. Gould empha- 
sizes how cultural assumptions 
and social goals influenced the 
ideas of early paleontologists 
and illustrators; he's particularly 
interested in what the "iconogra- 
phy of ancient beasts" — images 
of dinosaurs or early life in the 
seas — reveals about the culture 
from which it comes. Gould even 
points out that The Book of Life 
itself cannot escape from such 
socially dictated ways oi seeing, 
that the future will probably look 
back on us as quaint in some 
ways. This reflective approach 
makes a sophisticated comple- 
ment to Whitfield's less self-con- 
scious book. 

Evolution isn't just for scien- 
tists. It's a shame that many find 
:xcitement or interest in it. 
with books such as these 
sruse, perhaps a few will 
ignize and embrace the 
ndeur at the heart of 
vin's vision.Dd 


Using artificial photosynthesis to harness solar energy 

By Hunter Whitney 

:; n ihe September 27, 1912, is- 
Isue of Science, the Italian 
■ chemistry professor Giacomo 
Ciamician proposed an alterna- 
tive to dependence on coal. He 
envisioned industrial colonies 
"without smokestacks" where 
"forests of glass tubes will ex- 
tend over the plains." Inside 
these translucent reactors', sun- 
light would drive processes that 
were once thought to be "the 
guarded secret of the plants." 

Ciamician's dream, after 
some 80 years, finally seems 
plausible. Researchers are cur- 
rently working on artificial _ 
photosynthetic systems 
based on green plants and 
purple baciona. alien Kiting 
to understand and •mimic 
the photochemical wiz- 
ardry that front lawns, 
pond scum, and potted 
plants perform every day. 
Their work may yield new 
ways to generate clean, 
renewable energy as well 
as solar-powered manu- 
facturing techniques. 

Whether the fuel is a 
loaf of bread or a gallon of 
gasoline, the energy thai 
keeps your heart pu'-'png 
and your car running ulti- 
mately comes from the sun 
shining on plants. The 
green pigment chlorophyll 
uses sunshine to transform 
water and carbon dioxide into 
oxygen and carbohydrates, 
which the plant can use as food. 
Light energy excites one of the 
chlorophyll molecule's electrons, 
causing it to jump onto a neigh- 
boring acceptor molecule. The 
migrating electron separates 
positive and negative charges 
that can then be harnessed to 
perform useful work, such as 
fueling the chemical reactions 
necessary to build the carbohy- 
drates the plant needs. 

If photosynthesis only re- 

quired chlorophyll molecules to 
absorb solar energy, developing 
artificial systems would be fairly 
simple. However, electrons excit- 
ed by light soon return to their 
customary positions and dis- 
charge the energy as useless 
heat. In order to circumvent this 
problem, plants shuttle their dis- 
placed electrons down a chain of 
acceptor and donor molecules, 
keeping the positive and nega- 
tive charges apart long enough 
for the energy to aid in the forma- 
tion of desired carbohydrates. 
Researchers have had some 

in developing artificial 
photosynthetic molecules in the 
lab, but it's been harder to pro- 
duce photosynthesizers stable 
enough for practical applica- 
tions. "Typically, we'll design a 
molecule that functions just mar- 
velously floating around in solu- 
tion," explains Dr. Michael 
Wasielewski of the Argonne Na- 
tional Laboratory. "When we pre- 
vent the molecule from moving 
around, though, the efficiency of 
the charge separation drops like 
a rock." From a practical point of 

view, it's much better to develop 
materials that can function well in 
solids: "You wouldn't necessarily 
want a solar cell in your calcula- 
tor to be sloshing around," he 
observes. Plants have found a 
way to get around this problem— 
their photosynthetic systems 
function quite well in their solid 
form — but human science hasn't 
gotten past it yet. 

Scientists have suggested 
several different approaches for 
harvesting solar energy using 
photosynthetic models, including 
developing photosynthetic pig- 
ments that would generate 
elec:.-"icity or high-efficien- 
cy fuels. "I think in the 
future we will see photo- 
chemical production of 
hydrogen gas or other 
clean-burning fuels from 
nothing but water, carbon 
dioxide, and sunlight," 
says Wasielewski. Syn- 
thetic molecules might also 
serve as photosensitizers 
in the solar-driven manu- 
facture of plastics and 
other materials — for exam- 
ple, a process that current- 
ly requires boiling chemi- 
cals for several hours 
might be performed far 
less expensively by using 
special pigments and 
abundantly cheap sunlight. 
For now, Ciamician's 
dream remains something of a 
long shot, but the current 
research is laying the foundation 
for new applications of our solar 
resources. As John Connolly, 
principal scientist at the National 
Renewable Energy Laboratory, 
notes, "Whether research in this 
area will be applied on an indus- 
trial scale is going to depend on 
a lot of factors — accidents, 
serendipity, and many other 
things. But that's one of the more 
delightful aspects of science and 
the human condition. "DO 

ufsnis use 


researchers fisfjo 
h mnti 



The Windover people. Plus, bad weather on Pluto, and a magazine 

for the truly suffering artist 

When the bits of brain reached Wil- 
liam Hauswirlh's molecular biology 
laboratory at the University of Flori- 
da, they were 8,000 years old. But 
he is now "reading" these ancient 
neurons, deciphering clues about 
the lives of prehistoric Floridians. In 
the process, he's advancing a new 
science: molecular archaeology. 
As a spinoff, he may shed light on 
modern diseases. 

Contractors bulldozing for the 
Windover housing project near the 
Kennedy Space Center unearthed 
skeletons; archaeologists eventual- 
ly dug up more than 170 skeletons. 
The bodies had been buried 70 to 
80 centuries ago under water, 
held down with crossed sticks. Ar- 
chaeologists determined that this 
swamp had served for a thousand 
years as a prehistoric community's 

Amazing luck: The skulls still con- 
tained intact brains. More luck: The 
pond's peat was unusually free of 
acid. "Acid is death on DNA," 
says Hauswirth. 

Archaeologists sent him sam- 
ples from 91 brains in 1984 and 
1985, when molecular archaeolo- 
gy — the analysis of ancient DNA for clues to past societies — 
was still in its fetal stage. That era's cumbersome technol- 
ogy required him to inject samples of the prehistoric DNA 
into bacteria. As the bacteria reproduced, they cloned the 
samples. The process was painfully slow. It also required un- 
damaged source material — and ancient DNA is virtually al- 
ways damaged. 

Then, in the late Eighties, moicculai oioloc sts acquired 
a powerful new tool: PCR, or polymerase chain reaction. Us- 
ing enzymes from bacteria that live in boiling-hot springs, re 
searchers found that they could select a snippet of DNA and 
produce millions of exact copies. Instead of months, it 
would take hours. And PCR doesn't require perfect materi- 
als; in fact, it repairs damaged DNA segments. Hauswirth 
is studying a sequence of DNA that encodes immune- 
system proteins. He also has found that the Windover peo- 
ple's mitochondrial DNA, inherited solely from the mother, 
changed little over 50 generations, which suggests that wom- 

m ttiKiiciemt burisf ground prvvid 

In^tghl hrto Mm 
workings ov prehistoric h m»1 me. 

en were isolated in their villages. 
DNA from living Native Americans 
suggests the Americas were pop- 
ulated by four groups of Asian im- 
migrants. Hauswirth has now 
found that the Windover people 
seem closely related to most if not 
all four groups. Interestingly some 
of this evidence suggests the pos- 
sibility that there might have been 
other founding populations. 

Hauswirth also hopes to deter- 
mine whether the Windover people 
possessed DNA coded for repuls- 
ing certain infectious diseases, 
such as smallpox. If not, it would 
suggest that some diseases hitch- 
hiked to the New World in the bod- 
ies of Europeans. 

Hauswirth believes molecular 
archaeology may prove useful in a 
variety of other disciplines, too. For 
instance, DNA from the Windover 
brains represents 50 generations. 
"So we can ask, how does a spe- 
cies change in 1 ,300 years?" he 
says. "It's a real tool for studying 
short-term evolution." 

Ancient tissues might even spot- 
light what industrial pollution does 
to us. "One theory of aging is that 
unrepaired damage to our DNA accumulates after age 35 
and is a function of the environment," Hauswirth says. 
'These preindusria : lissues may help us determine if today's 
pollutants contribute to DNA damage." 

He worries about contamination of his samples with mod- 
ern DNA. An excavator's sneeze would do it. But Hauswirth 
says the new field is developing safeguards, such as insist- 
ence Mat findings must be replicated oy ether researchers. 
Also, since PCR works with only snippets of ancient DNA, 
findings based on long sequences of genetic material are 
automatically suspect. And a computer database can now 
sound an alarm if a key bit of "ancient human" DNA is actu- 
ally from a bacterium or a nonhuman entity. 

Don't expect to see a living Neanderthal cloned from afos- 
siiized femur, but molecular archaeology may yet rejig our 
ideas of prehistory. As Hauswirth puts it, "This science is 
still an infant — it's only in its first week of life!" 






Most of us think of testos- 
terone as the quintessential^ 
male hormone — a tiny, in- 
ternal squirt of it turning men 
into rutting, sex-crazed . . . 
You get the idea. Now Geor- 
gia State University psy- 
chologist James Dabbs says 
testosterone may actually 
play more of a role in sex for 
women than for men. 

Dabbs asked four hetero- 
sexual couples in their 
twenties to collect saliva 
samples twice a day for 
a couple of weeks — once 
after dinner and once before 
going to sleep. On the pre- 
sleep sample, the couples 
indicated whether they had 

28 OMNI 

made love between dinner 
and snooze time. When 
Dabbs and his colleague 
Suzanne Mohammed subse- 
quently measured the 
amount of tree testosterone 
in each sample, they found 


rhst while boh sexes showed 
higher leslcslerone levels 
after sex than before, the 
women's levels increased far 
more than the men's; 42 
percent to 7 percent.. 
Explanation? "These are 

jusi guesses." Dabbs says, 
"but it could be thai sex has 
a more lasting effeel for 
women. Or it could be that 
the hormone is more 
arousing for women than 
for men." — Bill Lawren 

A map of Pluto, which took 
more than six years to 
complete, reveals that the 
distant, diminutive planet 
L.ndsicccs seasonal chang- 
es. With this surprising 
finding, Pluto joins Earth, 
Mars, and Triton — Neptune's 
moon — as the only bodies 
in the solar system known to 
experience seasons. 

Massachusetts Institute of 
Technology planetary 

entisl Rlcriard 3inzel and 
Eliot Young observed Pluto 
from 1985 through 1990, 
using three telescopes at the 
McDonald Observatory in 
Texas. Pluto is so far away — 
30 to 50 times farther from 
the sun than Earth is — and 
so tiny — only two-thirds 
the size ot our moon — that 
Binzel and Young couldn't 
have probed the surface 
at all were it not for a chance 
alignment of Earth, Pluto, 
and its satellite Charon that 
occurs twice during Pluto's 


248-year swing around the 
sun. During the six-year 
observation period, the ap- 
parent brightness of Pluto 
changed as Charon passed 
in front of and behind it. 
These fluctuations enabled 
the scientists to determine 
the 'eflectivity, or "albedo," 
of the planet's surface. 
Their calculations pointed 
to a bright cap on the south 
pole, believed to consist 
of either methane or nitro- 
gen frost. 

How, the scientists won- 
dered, does the frosty layer 
s:av so shiny when one might 
exoec: it to become tar- 
nished with space grit? The 
MIT pair came up with a 
theory. During its elliptical 
orbit, Pluto periodically 

comes closer to the sun and 
then moves iarther away. 
As Pluto recedes, its south 
pole is plunged into shadow 
and the entire planet grows 
colder. Methane or nitrogen 
condenses from the atmos- 
phere, blanketing the south 
pole in a fresh layer of snow. 
The current weather fore- 
cast for Pluto; "It will start 
snowing in twenty to thirty 
years and last for about a 
decade," Binzel says. "Then 
there'll be a two-hundred- 
year cold snap 'til summer 
comes around." 

— Steve Nadis 


Why do drummers some- 
times urinate red? Why do 
orthodontists' eyes light 
up when they see a kid with 
a violin? The answers to 
these and other burning 
questions appear in the new 
French magazine Mede- 

ciriG des Arts, perhaps the 
first journal devoted solely 
to medical problems peculiar 
to artists. 

Artists have occupational 
diseases just like coal miners 
(bad lungs) and supermarket 
checkers (bad wrists), ex- 
plains the magazine's foun- 
der, French physician Andre 
Frangois Arcier. Arcier 
has collected more than 
4,000 items on the ravages of 
art. Beating on hand drums, 
for example, ruptures red 
blood cells, releasing hemo- 
globin that finds its way ' 
into the urine. "In parts of 



Africa," Arcier says, "people 
say a drummer doesn't play 
well unless he has red urine." 
Hours of violin playing can 
displace the chin, some: mes 
requiring heavy orthodontia. 
All this and more can be 
found in the pages of 
"/ieciedns des Arts, the first 
issue of which appeared 
in September 1992. Actually, 
Arcier has even bigger 
ideas: He wants to use the 
quarterly magazine to launch 
the new field of art medi- 
cine — the aesthete's version, 
he says, of sports medicine. 
— Bill Lawren 

"It is remarkable how 
often our complaints reflect 
our own shortcomings. " 

— Dick Overton 

11" "^ ^^i*-* 

II ' aa *' ■■^^~W«s^^E^ 

* \ 


*' s 'w 


II ' ; ||y jsj 

Clones ol a fast-growmgmemb 

r of the paulownia family of trees 

may help meet ;'ic c ■ser-growng domar.ci tor r.jrdwood. 


foot butt log length, and we 

have a ninety-nine percent 

success rate with tissue 

A combination of the 

culturing," Bland says. 

ancient and the modern 

"With seeds, who knows 

could provide the answer to 

what the success rate is?" 

the insatiable global de- 

World demand for hard- 

mand for hardwood, which 

wood lumber has reached 

the timber industry now 

200 cubic meters yearly 

fells an estimated 140 mil- 

and rises about 3 or 4 

lion trees yearly to meet. 

percent annually — as does 

An Asiatic species of hard- 

the price — destroying for- 

wood called the paulow- 

ests far faster than nature 

nia, which grows to maturity 

can replace them. The 

in seven years, fills the 

paulownia clones, which 

ancient side of the equa- 

can rapidly produce what 

tion. The modern part is 

timbermen call a "mother 

cloning technology, which 

stock," could help save 

turns out more trees in 

a diminishing resource. 

less time. 

Bland says. 

The paulownia clone 

Another advantage of 

grows from a seedling to a 

the cloned paulownia — 

ten-foot tree in six months, 

named after a daughter of 

according to George 

the Russian Czar Paul I— 

Bland, president of Tree 

is that a cubic foot of its 

Technology International in 

pale-colored timber weighs 

Maxton, North Carolina. 

between 14 and 18 

The company's scientists 

pounds, compared to the 

worked for ten years to 

60- to 70-pound weight of 

develop the tissue-cu-.iuring 

conventional hardwood. 

technique needed for the 

Less weight means lower 

cloning process. 

harvesting and transporta- 

"We guarantee a sixteen- 

tion costs. — George Nobbe 



e satellite pictures to find old-growth tf 

rather than hunting for them on foot. 


Scientists trying to find 
stands of old-growth trees in 
high-country forests have 
traditionally had to do it the 
hard way, tying on their 
hiking boots and strapping 
on their binoculars to look 

lead in the race to find 
ancient trees before they're 
sold to timber companies. 
The age of a tree stand 

determines how much light it 
reflects in various bands of 
the electromagnetic spec- 
trum. An instrument on the 
Landsat satellite detects 
these energy reflections and 


for them firsthand. Now, 
satellites are making their 
work considerably easier. 
A Rocky Mountain research- 
er has discovered that 
old growth leaves a "spectral 
signature" that can be 
spotted by satellites, giving 
conservation groups a 

30 OMNI 

from surface 

features. University of Color- 
ado researcher Elizabeth 
Nel used a computer to 
translate that data into a 
series of pixels, or picture 
elements. She found that 
old growth appears darker in 
the pixel display, because 

it reflects less light in several 
areas of the spectrum, 
and mottled, because it has 
a multistoried canopy. 

She confined her study to 
the Flat Tops Wilderness 
Area in northern Colorado 
but thinks the technique 
can be used virtually any- 
where. Other groups have 
used a different kind of 

■cull probsb y never get t 

remote sensing to detect 
old growth, but Kiel's method 
is cheaper and quicker. 

"It's not a magical 
technique to find all the old 
growth in the world," Nel 
explains. "But for groups like 
the Forest Service, it's a 
fast and cheap way to start 
an old-growth inventory." 

— Teresa Tsalaky 

visrt Mais in your |i ; c 
Cheer up: A new co 

no j 

Mars ouffs. VistaPro, w 

program can rake v 

users to add 'trees and 

(here. v;nuai-re.a|ity > 
With ViSiaPro, vol 


other preforming nicet 
to the landscape. The 

explore the va : :eys <. 
:any ns of IV: a ■ 
the views, angles, a 



program soetails are s 
realistic. Woeliien says 
that Arthur C. Cla/ke us 

lighirng o; scenes as if y 
were shooting the sur- 
face with a camera. The 
program uses NASA 
data to build its images s 
allows you. to select the ■ 
Martian features you war 


VistaPro to Help write 
his upcoming book on 
terrsfcrming Mars. 

Virtue Reality Labor e 
ries will soon introduce 
a new virtual -reality pro 
gram featuring Venus. 

to explore. "It's as if 

■.. -.— DeveraF 

the vanishing ozone layer, 
farmers wore hats to protect 
themselves from the sun. 
However, the hat of choice 
for today's farmers — base- 
ball caps— leaves some- 
thing to be desired, accord- 
ing to experts at the Na- 
tional Farm Medicine Center 
in Marshfield, Wisconsin. 

"Baseball caps don't pro- 
tect such vulnerable areas 
[against skin cancer] as 
32 OMNI 

^ mmi 

ear tips, temples, and the 
back of the neck," says 

nurse and the center's 
assistant director. Last sum- 
mer, Lee and some col- 
leagues field-tested 11 dif- 
ferent hat styles on farmers in 
Wscorisin and Minnesota 
to find headgear capable of 

of the metal that 'improve 

downhill performance. The 

When Hank and Bucky 

design using the steel 

Kashiwa tried selling their 

resists twisting'and allows 

idea for making, snow skis 

even weight distribution 

out of everyday, ordinary 

ircr sk' to to isi ! . Accord- 

steel, they were laughed 

ing jy, stability improves, 

out of some executive 

turning becomes both 

suites. Metal seemed 

easier and snappier, and 

passe to an industry that 

edges-grip icy surfaces 

employed the most 

more securely. 

high-tech of materials. 

Hank Kashiwa, Volant 

The brothers maysoon 

president and one-time 

enjoy the last laugh. Their 

Olympic skier, faults the ski 

company, Volant of Boul- 

establishment for supplant- 

der, Colorado, isenter- 

ing engineering with fash- 

ing its fifth season as a 

ion, embracing exotic 

David amid the Goliath of 

materials primarily for 

ectabilsned ski makers. 

bragging rights, "Since the 

The Kashiwas claim that 

mid 1960s, there's been 

Volant skis represent the 

nothing new in ski design," 

first truly new-concept skis 

he argues, "but in the 

developed in nearly two 

interim, marketing has 

decades. Their secret is a 

taken over." 

one-piece stainless- steel 

Ironically, the Kashiwas 

cap that covers the ski'stop 

themselves started the 

and wraps down the sides. 

latest downhill vogue: caps. 

Though scarcely as thick 

"When, we introduced the 

as two business cards, 

design'in 1989, people- 

the steel cap acquires 

jumped on the bandwag- 

disproportionate strength 

on," Hank says. "But there's 

from its shape. 

no real structural advan- 

Layers of spring steel 

tage to a composite cap." 

inside the skis-combine with- 

Its patents leave Volant 

the cap — plus some con- 

the only ski company ex- 

ventional ski materials — to 

ploiting the advantages of 

capitalize on properties 

steel.— Jeffrey Zy'gmont 

providing adequate sun 
prctoc.ion that farmers would 
actually wear. 

A stiff hat with a brim that 
extends out like a pith helmet 
proved to work the best, 
according to Lee. But such a 
hat isn't practical for farmers 
because it can pop off too 
easily. The farmers preferred 
a Foreign Legion-style hat 
with a brim like a baseball 
cap in the front and a flap 
that covers the ears and 

neck in the back. There's 
no need to spend a lot 
of money on such a hat, Lee 
says; a bandanna tied 
under a baseball cap will do 
the job just as well. 

Copies of the report, 
including pictures- of the hats, 
farmers' comments, and 
buying sources are available 
free from NFMC, 1000 
North Oak Avenue, Marsh- 
field, Wisconsin 54449. 

— Francesca Lunzer Kritz 



icAuliffe •Photographs by Dot 

and finally a decision by the go 1 

out of the country. But . 
2, this world-renowned 

a remote spot in far northern Ethiopia 

irlrJ. Here, three pieces 
of the earth's crust meet, shifting back 

scientific team drove along, Johan- 
— his hair now graying at both tem- 
and brow, found himself 


Donald Johanson sifts patiently through the dust of time and culture. 

ong our old Mends would be dead 

i three days of lough driving 

ijis (foreigners) 
•■ back looking for more gohola 

mazing sight: Dato Ahmedu, an r 

<ept barreiing by, but through all 

A Ml 



■"ecails, ":he absolute thrill anc exciie- 
ment of being able to tell his good 
American friends that he had found 

And found something Dato had. 
Later that evening he would lead them 
to a little circle of stones that he had 
used to mark the position of the left half 
of a fossilized lower jaw — with four 
teeth still in place. The jaw was defi- 
nitely from a Lucylike hominid (Ihe sci- 
entific term used to distinguish the 
early human ancestors who stood up 
and walked erect from our more distant 
apelike relatives who moved about on 
all fours). But more important than this 
particular find, Dato had led the team 
to a new, highly productive area full of 
hominid fossils. In the next few weeks, 
they would pull out another jaw, a par- 
tial male skeleton, and the most cov- 
eted scientific prize of all: a nearly 
complete skull of Lucy's species, which 
bears the tongue-twisting name Aus- 
ii'siopmiecLis nfsrensis. "This is some- 
thing we've searched for for years and 
no one's ever found," says Johanson. 
"It's the oldest, most complete skull we 
have of a hominid, and it gives us a 
glimpse of what this early, primitive 
species irrefutably looked like." 

These are exciting times for Donald 
Johanson, president of the Institute of 

Human Origins (11-0; h Berkeley Cali- 
fornia, and best-selling author of Lucy 
and Lucy's Child. He has now made 
dozens of new hominid discoveries in 
Ethiopia; just published /Ancestors, a 
popular science book; and hosted his 
own TV series for Nova, which aired on 
PBS earlier this year. Titled "In Search 
of Human Origins," the series covers 
the grand sweep of human evolution- 
tackling close to 4 million years of his- 
tory in just three hours. In the tradition 
of Kenneth Clark's "Civilization" and 
Jacob Bronowski's "The Ascent of 
Man," this documentary series puts 
forth Johanson's perspective on some 
of the most hotly debated issues in 
early human research. Why did our an- 
cestors stand upright? How did they 
make a living? Were they noble hunters 
or wily scavengers? What actually hap- 
pened to the Neanderthals? What is 
the fossil evidence, and how do we 
dissect it? In short, what is it that Jo- 
hanson believes makes us essentially 
human and who we are today? 

On camera, Johanson is handsome, 
worldly, and well spoken, as he takes 
the audience on a truly epic adventure 
with stop-offs in Africa, Europe, Aus- 
tralia, and the Middle East. He Is a 
master science popuiarizer. translating 
his own enthusiasm for paleoanthro- 

oolocy into colorful words and imager. 
"Don knows how to tell a good story 
and make it really interesting to an au- 
dience who knows nothing about it," 
says Paula Aspell, executive producer 
at Nova. "He's one of the few scientists 
.who can talk to the public without 
being too technical." Off camera, Jo- 
hanson is equally engaging and 
charming, a wonderful raconteur who 
is knowledgeable about not only fos- 
sils, but opera, wine, and German po- 
etry as well. Johanson is also known, 
however, to be an extremely ambitious 
and driven man — a demanding perfec- 
tionist who pushes himself anc otne's 
hard. According to geologist Bob Wal- 
ter at IHO, who's worked with Johanson 
for nearly 20 years, "Don's funny, witty, 
in.e : gent, and personable, but he can 
also be caustic and biting, He can be 
your best friend and your worst 
enemy — all these things wrapped up 
into one. He's just an incredible, dy- 
namic personality with a taser-shsrp 
mind, who retains everything from ar- 
cane scientific information to'jokes." 

Johanson was catapulted to fame in 
the mid 1970s when as a young Ph.D. 
he rocked the scientific world with his 
remarkable hominid discoveries and 
his startling interpretations of what they 
meant for human evolution. First came 

Regular {pf 

the partial tomsis s.<e e:on. Lucy, in 
1974 — named for the Beatles song 
"Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds," which 
played over and over again at the 
camp celebration the day she was un- 
earthed, With an incredible 40 percent 
of her bones still remaining, Johanson 
was ab-e <o sec that up^gh; walking, c 
"bioedasm," was the key feature that 
distinguished early humans from their 
apelike forebears. Until that point, most 
scientists had presumed that a bigger 
brain had preceded this change in 
posture. In fact, Lucy, with her small 
apelike brain, is often described as 
being a chimpanzee from the neck up 
and a human from the waist down. Or 
as Johanson puts it, "For all her ape- 
ness, Lucy walked beautifully ' 

A year later at the same site in 
Ethiopia, Johanson uncovered the re- 
mains of some 15 other individuals who 
appeared to be related to Lucy. Be- 
lieved to be the oldest evidence of 
human ancestors living in groups, the 
National Gecq-aqhic Society dubbed 
['lis fossil collection the "First Family." 
And finally, in January of 1979 came 
the famous theoretical paper in Sci- 
ence with co-worker Tim White, where 
Johanson rewrote the human family 
tree and declared both Lucy and the 
First Family members of a new 

species. Christened AusfralCtpithecuS 
afarensis, Johanson and White posi- 
tioned the new species at the base oi 
the tree — as the earliest human ances- 
tor from which all others were thought 
to be descended. "Johanson and 
White were absolutely right to create a 
new species." says Ian Tattersall. chair- 
man of the anthropology department at 
the American Museum of Natural His- 
tory. "But at that time, it was a very, 
very unfashionable thing to do. There 
hadn't been a new species created for 
over ten years, when Louis Leakey and 
colleagues named Homo habilis and 
got into all kinds of hot water " 

The controversy and debate that fol- 
lowed were very public and very bitter, 
especially between Johanson and 
Louis Leakey's son. Richard, who had 
since become a distinguished pale- 
oanthropologist in his own right. Johan- 
son and Richard Leakey had once 
been good friends, visiting each other's 
digs, stopping by to show each other 
their latest fossil finds, even sailing to- 
gether off the coast of Kenya. But the 
sparks began to fly in newspaper and 
magazine articles, culminating in a 
televised debate on the science pro- 
gram, Walter Cronkite's Universe, 
where Johanson presented his version 
of the family tree on a poster board and 

Leakey crossed it out with a big X and 
a question mark. That was back in 
1981, and they haven't spoken since. 
"We had a head-on collision," says Jo- 
hanson, "and neither one of us was 
going to budge one cemmeter. Unfor- 
tunately, I don't think that's reparable." 

In essence, Leakey thought there 
were at least two parallel paths of 
human evolution— that the one eadirg 
to true humans went back millions of 
years independent of Aus;raiopiihsc:.:> 
which he considered an interesting 
side branch in the human family tree 
(or "bush," as he likes to call it) that 
eventually withered and died off. At the 
time, Leakey believed he had the hom- 
nid fossils to prove his point. "It turned 
out that Leakey's material is a lot 
younger than Johanson's stuff from 
Hadar and therefore was not in such 
direct competition as it first apoea'ed 
to be," says Tattersall. "But back then, 
ihe iossils were thought to be about the 
same age and therefore the difference 
in interpretation was significant." The 
end result was not just the destruction 
of a personal and professional relation- 
ship, but a real split in the field of pale- 
oanthropology. "There's been the whole 
development of the Leakey camp and 
the Johanson camp, and if you're in 




;..y*. t ■'/'■■ ■■:;* ■ ■ 

$ 11,480 fa 

There's Onlv One Jeep* 

Article by 
Janet Stites 

■ ; 0*j • 
Why do birds 
flock? Why 
do bees swarm? 
At SF1, com- 
puter scientist 
langton (near 
right) anti 
his colleagues 

have come : 

up with apro- 

; gram tailed 

"Swarm" that 

imitates the 

actions of birds 

and bees in 

order to clarify 

" at what 

point intelligent 



Walking through the corridors 
of the Santa Fe Institute (SF!) it 
>t uncommon to hear the assertion 2 + 2 = -5, which initially caused a mo- 
t ■.■! of consternation on my part, as the institute, located on the outskirts of 
a Fe, New Mexico, has become a gathering place for a number" of eminent 
ttists, leading economists,, and an international crop of graduate and post-: 
lyate .students researching topics from evolutionary biology to linguistics. 
3FI is an institution based, on the idea that the sum of the parts doesn't . 

.necessarily add up to the whole and is dedicated to the study of what has 
become known as the science of complexity. .;; :">■■:;' 

As it stands, complexity is more a way of doing science than a science itself: 
its an approach that looks for patterns in what scientists at the- Institute qualify 
as complex- systems. (CS) or complex adaptive systems (CAS), the scientists 
analyze these systems from the bottom up— tracing the actions of antibodies in 
the immune system or fluctuations in the stock market—in order to understand . 
the system as a whole 

emerges in such 
a system. 
They think that 
their work 
will eventually 
help find 
glitches in more 
systems, langton 
does his 
work at 
the Santa Fe 

where vice presi- 
dent of 

academic affairs 
Mike Simmons 
(near left) 
oversees the 
on the nature of 

cigarette,. , while 6th er 



' like 

the. immune- system, ■ the 


orr-yc-cr human -soCie-tief- 


cause. they learn's'nd n 


behavior, it's the- overlap 


the hard sciences to ecc 

'; em- 

Ic's and the social science 

s' that 

makes complex adacrvi 


isms- intriguing. ■■ "Con 


adaptive systems-are' dill 


Iheir. problems system 


cific."- says Simmons, "cl. 


are able to evolve and, in' 


cases such' :ss '.the '.AIDS 


■trade- imbalances and co 

it- ids 

in society'; cq- evolve.' 


"erv---'j.-2r. osfiavia-" thai is 

-. i- earns frprr. the coast .of' 

balance,, now theAIDS virus 

(he su-cr-s ng ,-es;-.i;iani ol 

Norm Carolina to padidipate in 

evolves ir a population, how 

\!\b ecusho^s — when groups oi 

"the'lnstltLite.-s Complex Sys- 

conflicts evolve -d a society. 

a i':i, .- -amze *o elimi- 

tems Summer Sonooi Lo sec if : 

.-■The ant colony, is -a pop war 

nate an Invader sf the stock 

'.could get : :h the' famous New 

mode! fo; describing a ccm- 

market eras as At the core of 

Mexican light, : a glimpse of 

.i.'iv ■ \ ■■ 'in Os use 

complex. i;, s ihe conviction 

■:.: imc-lex-lty. teams if.: search of 

white individual ants may only 

"that" complex systems- share 

.a deiini-'Cn or at. the least a 

be -able to perform 1W o to three 

Similar behavior,, sp-'what you. 


dozen tasks, their aggregate 

learn from ore system, jdke trie' 

SFI vies presided of aca- 

b' :i.i '■■ lb;. ■ in . . ■ i 

:rnmune systs--. you can apply- 

demic.' affairs Mike Simmons 

operate, almost as. a single- o: - 

:td' : another, like the economy-*- 

■ often lectures on, the science of 

gamsrh, Thera is' no leader or 

which exp;a>.-= the conglom- 

complexity and ihe Institute 

.boss. -ho .chain of command'.' 

eration of peoole.'who are in 

itself. He is good humored ane 

The colony works' from the bot- 

some- way affiliated .withSFl- 

philosophical, a manner! found. 

tom lip. Seme ants will spend a 

walking the na'lv.ays with a Cup ■ 

■ idieative ol the atmosphere ai 

hot day moving, larvae around 

I coffee ere suffering what 
s-ems to an outsider a sod of'. 

There are physicists turned 

He opens his lecturer 


computer science's, computer 

"setback '-for me: ..'-'There 

a h 

scientists turned biologists, 

■: agreed-upon ' definition- of 


bioiogisis fumed economists". 

pi-exHy, even within in- 

■1 p 

Tney.come'so the desert from' 

stituted' ne says "It's a to 

Stanford, from the University ol 

ther Supreme:-. Court's oefi 


I'linois.'lrom the Salk Institute.. 

of pornography.- It's very 


from: Industry: -they come from 

■to define; Out you'll xn. 

Eeolo Normsio SupGrioure in 

when you seen." 

P-i- s and Germany's Max.' 

■ \ Before- you'siar* looking 


Planck Institute, irorr. as close 

need o understand that 


as. Los Alamos National Labor- 

sysl msart s tpiy torn; 


atory and frcmas lanas-he 

pariicdiahy- physical, syst 


'■wallpapering" the.- walls of the 
nasi v/th I cocoon: 

' keep the- humidity- down, 
ago for tccp ■ 

I ,11 ■ . ■. ■ ; ' ■ !■!■ ■ 






. A 



•eiy, to 




ny, relo 





even: o 



, att 

oino. o 


V ac 


work s 





There Goes t 



E-% <k 

k V 



^ oom. Earth is deslroyed by a ; 
t4l catastrophic event, ond you're re- j 


nki nd s Future I 

n Space 

p-# starship to the robomlners and monorail 
1 systems you'll use on the planet surface, 
J Outpost's photo-realism and 3-D rendered 
animation are unprecedented. 


i * 

■^ sponsible for rebuilding civilization on 
another planet. Lucky you. Where you go 


- i 

and it you survive is up to you — there s a 
galaxy of possibilities. 


Develop agriculture, mining ond manu- 
fc| facturing to survive, and then invest in 

Based on NASA research in planetary 

science, robotics, terraforming, and 
interstellar spacecraft design, Outpost places 
you in control of the most comprehensive 
strategy simulation ever developed for the 
PC. No kiddina. From the colonization 

1 more comfortable "for your colonists - 
hopefully they'll be around long enough Ic 


enjoy it. Because, in the end, the decisions 
you moke will determine the destiny ol 


Simmons warns. "It doesn't necessarily 
mean improvement either," he says. 
For instance, during a flood the ants 
might relocate to enemy territory. More- 
over, systems sometimes identify false 
regularities, which can be a source of 
trouble. Superstition is an example of 
humans operating as complex adap- 
tive systems identifying false regulari- 
ties, according to Simmons — as in the 
case of the baseball player crediting 
his hitting streak to a pair of socks. "If 
he wears the socks for the next month," 
says Simmons, "he may continue to hit 
above 300. But on a rational basis, it's 
hard to believe the socks have any- 
thing to do with it." 

The Santa Fe Institute itself was con- 
ceived in the early Eighties, the brain- 
child of a group of senior fellows at Los 
Alamos National Lab who saw a need 
for an institution devoted to interdisci- 
plinary studies that didn't adhere to the 
demands of traditional research univer- 
sities. SITs mandate is simple: collabo- 
ration, computing, and multidisciplinary 
research. Today, there is no permanent 
faculty, no departments, no tenure, Re- 
searchers retain affiliation with their pri- 
mary institutions and come to SFI to 
work on less conventional projects. The 
Institute has also made two other deci- 
sions: Long-term participants must 

raise their own funds, and all must 
leave their beakers at home; at SFI, the 
closest thing to a lab is the small kitch- 
en where staffers stash their lunches. 

Researchers at SFI use computers 
the way biologists use microscopes to 
get a microscopic view of complex 
adaptive systems, analyzing the be- 
havior of each agent in a system. Such 
modeling supplements and in some" 
cases replaces analytical computation 
or the lab in studies of the human im- 
mune system or natural ecologies or 
economies. They build controlled envi- 
ronments in which variables or 
agents— representing, for instance, 
antigens in a biological system or a 
species in an ecology— can be manip- 
ulated, using sophisticated computa- 
tional techniques such as classifier 
systems, neural nets, cellular auto- 
mata, and genetic algorithms. Classi- 
fier systems are loosely based on 
concepts from economics of competi- 
tion and cooperation of the market- 
place. Neural nets crudely simulate the 
actions of the neurons and synapses of 
the brain and are also used as stand- 
ard tools in artificial intelligence. 

Cellular automata work on a lattice, 
each "cell" of the lattice changing con- 
tingent on what it knows about itself 
and what it learns about its neighbors. 

They have been utilized to simulate 
o'ocgesss like crystal growth or the in- 
dicate oatter-iE seer on mcllusk sho,;s. 
Genetic algorithms are founded on 
ideas of natural selection and sexual 
reproduction and are inspired by the 
notion that nature, through evolution, is 
the consummate problem solver. 

Such is the belief of University of 
Michigan computer soentis:. psycholo- 
gist and engineer John Holland, who 
began the development of genetic al- 
gorithms in the 1960s (as well as clas- 
sifier systems). The algorithms mimic 
the behavior of biological chromo- 
somes, making copies of themselves 
and recombining with other chromo- 
somes to produce, ideally, more "fit" 
strings. But instead of biological traits, 
the algorithms are made up of strings 
of attributes represem'nc characters- 
ties needed to solve a given problem. 
For example, r you're designing a 
robot, attributes might include the 
kinds of movements — forward, back- 
ward, sideways — it must perform, It's 
the coordination of these movements 
that the algorithms optimize. 

Engineers have used genetic algo- 
rithms to design jet turbines, because 
ihe dos'gn ol suri systems involves at 
least 100 variables, each of which can 
take on a different range of values and 

have numerous constraints. The pres- 
sure, velocity, and turbulence of flow in- 
side the turbine must cohere; the 
turbine itself must have a certain curva- 
ture and smoothness. 

Using techniques such as genetic al- 
gorithms to replace or gain insight in:o 
costly experimentation is something 
scientists at SFI hope to do with all their 
computer models. "The current devel- 
opment of the science of complexity 
depends very much on the rapid de- 
velopment of computers," says Sim- 
mons. He points out that the growth 
over the last 20 years of techniques : or 
mathematical analyses of nonlinear 
systems such as the weather has coin- 
cided with, and benefited from, the 
availability of powerful computers. 
"There has been an important Interplay 
between the increase of new computa- 
tional power and new computational 
techniques and new mathematical 
techniques," he says. 

Indeed, as soon as computers be- 
came available, scientists began using 
them to emulate problems in the nat- 
ural world. In the early Sixties, meteor- 
ologist Eoward Lorenz hoped to use a 
computer model in combination with 
mathematics to take the guesswork out 
of long-term weather forecasting. In- 
stead, he stumbled across what would 
become a crucial factor in the develop- 
ment of chaos theory. He found to his 
surprise that if even a minute change 
was made in the initial conditions — say 
if the number representing humidity in 
his model was rounded off by one o. 
thousandth — weather patterns co 
diverge dramatically. 

By the Seventies, the phenomenon 
became reduced to the phrase "sensi- 
tive dependence on initial conditions" 
and known In terms of the "butterfly ef- 
fect" — that a butterfly flapoing its wings 
over Cuba in August could influence 
the course of a hurricane headed in- 
land in September. On a small scale, 
Lorenz's findings provoked a new mod- 
esty among scisnusis work ng on long- 
term weather forecasting; on a large 
scale, the consequence was a cross- 
disciplinary shift in the sciences away 
from Newtonian determinism, or the 
idea that the world unfolds in a pre- 
dictable manner. "Many people have 
rethought their approach to science 
and the mathematical assumptioi 
they made about the systems under 
study," says Simmons. "It's not that the 
old ideas were wrong; it's just that 
there's more to it than that." 

Researchers in complexity write pro- 
grams to mimic the behavior of 
CAS's— the economy or an ecology — 
that allow them to manipulate vc ables 
in the environment or int'al conditions. 


karat g 1 


. The World** Fh 



■ EfflliCT ■■■ 

'.H'r. . Grateful Dead's Mickey Hart 
■ FTi ' pl .. records'. with- the late. Woody ; 
Guthrie. Pius an Invention 
Convention. ; - 

9:30fm Test-drive an electric cat. Then 
ET,P fly into a stunt vehicle with 


9_pm The granola bar, the disposable 
""' rT diaper and the world's first 

9:3(K: Laser-etched crystals for mass 
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Wi:h those Kirni/arcns, sc : entists look 
for regions of stability — a stable popu- 
lation of predators and p'ey in an ecol- 
ogy— or regions of instability — where 
an increase in predators depletes a 
population of prey contributing to the 
extinction of a species. By analyzing 
these scenarios, scientists build math- 
ematical models of the, system, often 
based on intuition or an educated" 
guess. "There's a kind of interplay," 
says Simmons, "and it's very much like 
the interplay between experiment and 
theory in the real world. If you conduct 
an experiment and find some important 
effect is there, then you set about 
studying the underlying theory. The in- 
sight gained by the experiment helps 
in solving the theoretical problem." 

To conduct these experiments, SF! 
computer scientists are working on 
programs that will provide a general 
framework in which scientists can 
work — a digital lab of sorts, suitable : or 
use by scientists from many disci- 
plines. John Holland calls his the Echo 
Model {as in echoing an ecosystem) 
and compares it to a flight simulator 
where scienfsts can :roubloshoo: prob- 
lems or test hypotheses without setting 
up a physical experiment. Holland 
hopes Echo will also be used by schol- 
ars and policymakers in numerous 
fields, from anthiooclogy lo politics. 

Holland's former student, Australian 
Terry Jones, has the challenging task 
of implementing the program, which 
he's working on at all hours in a small 
office tucked behind the Institute's li- 
brary—or, on a bad day, Jones jokes, 
from under the desk. "You find in com- 
plex systems some sort of high-level 
phenomenon,' he explans "some big 
overall behavior that we haven't had 
very much success in predicting, like a 
stock-market crash or the extinction of 
a species. The idea at the Institute is 
that maybe there are some commonali- 
ties in these systems that can be got- 
ten at, perhaps through mathematics, 
perhaps through modeling." 

Jones is working with University of 
New Mexico ecologist Jim Brown mod- 
eling one of Brown's real-life experi- 
ments to verify Echo. "In the early 
Seventies, Brown fenced off patches of 
desert and systemalically removed 
species to see what effect the absence 
of a desert rat or ant would have on the 
ecosystem," Jones says. "It's the kind 
of situation we can easily model in 
Echo. Start it up, run it for a while, then 
stop it and take out all of the agents 
with the same string of symbols. Start it 
up again and see what happens." The 
value in running the experiment is that 
there is already two decades of data 
with which to work, allowing Jones and 

Brown to compare the results of the 
Echo model with the actual data, Once 
they have confidence in the model, 
they can use it to predict what will hap- 
pen in the future, "The patches haven't 
stopped changing," Jones says. "In 
, some cases, there have been dramatic 
changes— desert land turned into 

Across the courtyard from Jones, 
computer scientists Christopher Lang- 
ton and David Hiebele- conk; mo la ;e a 
series o~ f gjres or a chalkboard, lines 
of ones and zeros. Oficaly ernoloycd 
by the Complex Systems Group of the 
Theoretical Division at Los Alamos, 
Langton spends most of his working 
hours at SFI. Hiebeler is a graduate 
student in applied mathematics at Har- 
vard. Just now they are working on a 
computer modeling program called 
"Swarm"— as in a swarm of bees — that 
will be used in a similar fashion to Echo 
but with broader applications. "Swarm 
is much more general than Echo," 
Langton says, "Echo has many specif c 
assumptions about the nature of the 
agents and the nature of the world built 
in. Swarm, however, assumes almost 
nothing about the agents or the world. 
One could easily implement Echo in 
Swarm but not the reverse." 

Langton sketches a series of circles 
on the chalkboard to help me under- 
stand the architecture of Swarm. He- 
talks aoout traffic, birds, and ants. 
"What do all these groups have in com- 
mon''" he asks. "There is no central au- 
thority, no central organization." In a 
swarm, you have a large collection of 
agents interacting with each other, 
each following an often simple set of 
rules — as is the case of birds Hocking, 
where obvious patterns emerge from 
each bird following a few basic rules, 
primarily that they should keep a cer- 
tain distance from their immediate 
neighbors. "Each bird is an agent," 
Langton says, "acting locally, but creat- 
ing a global dynamic." 

Using Swarm, Langton and his col- 
leagues hope lo im'iste such complex 
collective behavior and thus clarify the 
point at which intelligent behavior 
emerges. Ideally, political scientists 
might use it to understand the collapse 
of a government, or telecommunica- 
tions engineers might be able to antici- 
pate a ghicn ,r a swi toning system; 
both are problems that have a number 
of agitators but no central authority dic- 
tating group behavior. "We've all been 
in traffic jams that don't seem to have a 
cause," Langton says. "The jam dis- 
poses and you realize there was no 
accident, no roadwork, no apparent 
reason for the tie-up. The same thing 
can happen in a switching system." 

Much of the work at SFI is wrought in 
pure mathematics and tneory — founda- 
tions of spatial computation, computa- 
tion in natural systems, relationships 
between computation and physics, 
quantum computation — concepts laid 
to discuss in simple terms bul essential 
to complexity, One of postdoc Cris 
Moore's jobs is to find alternative meth- 
ods of computation and make them ap- 
plicable to the physical world, which is 
much like trying to find a new flavor for 
ice cream that might replace vanilla. 
Moore a ohi osopnical about his work 
and the work of the Institute. He is ani- 
mated yet relaxed, enjoying a beer in 
the courtyard during a Friday afternoon 
reception at the Institute. He talks 
about his work with the Green Party, 
how it balances his assignment at SFI 
because the results are so tangible. 
Reflecting on SFI, Moore says, "What 
we do here is like ballet, or an opera 
sung in a language that only 2,000 
people understand." 

Learning the language are scientists 
like- Dr. Maureane Hoffman, assistant 
professor of pathology at Duke Medical 
Center and director of the hematology 
lab at the a' : : ia:ed Veterans Adminis- 
tration hospital in Durham, North Car- 
olina. Hoffman, a fellow student at last 
year's summer school, came to the In- 

stitute to learn how to build a model 
that could emulate the coagulation sys- 
tem, "We have a lot of information 
about the parts o ; the blood-clotting 
system," Hoffman says, "but there are 
a lot of parts. It's hard to put them to- 
gether into one model." A number of 
protein factors in the bcod pa r tcip;-re 
in forming a normal clot, but it's not 
clear how changing ihe "combination or 
amount of factors affects clotting. 
Moreover, ihe behavior of the system is 
hard to predict, a hallmark of a nonlin- 
ear system, "You can't say that if you 
have more of a certain factor, then your 
blood is going to clot faster," sne says 
Wnat information Hoffman and her col- 
leagues have collected comes from 
oatierts with clotting and bleeding dis- 
orders. Researchers already know, for 
instance, that if you are missing factor 
VIII or factor IX, you are a severe he- 
mophiliac. But even if you have 10 per- 
cent of the normal value, you can be 
fine. In fact, Hoffman explains, hatf the 
people missing factor XI have a bleed- 
ing problem and half don't. "In our 
case, we have ihe information on the 
what," she says, "but not the why." 
Hoffman's team in Durham has built 

Wtro r 

to Santa Fe to learn how to build math- 
ematical (computer) models that would 
allow the team to predict what would 
happen when it changed some of the 
factors in the in vitro model. "If you 
have a computer model, you can 
change all these factors any way you 
want and get an idea of what it would 
do to the overall clotting," Hoffman 
says. "We can do a little of that in the in 
vitro model, but it takes all day to do an 
experiment, and it's expensive." 

Hoffman was able to find two fellow 
students to help her write the appropri- 
ate mathematical formulas and do the 
programming needed to build a com- 
puter model. "I went to Santa Fe know- 
ing what I wanted to do but not how to 
app r o£cn it." she says. "I ihink a lot of 
physicians and biologists have ihe 
same problem. You know there ought 
to be a way to approach these sorts of 
problems in a computative way, but we 
don't have a lot of experience in math." 

SFI doesn't have a monopoly on the 
study of complex systems but has be- 
come as a research and teaching insti- 
tution an oasis for peoole interested n 
the science el comoiexlty Research.-. 1 '?; 
such as Hoffman can discuss- their 
projects with heavyweights including 
Nobel laureates Murray Gell-Mann and 
Kenneth Arrow, Los Alamos matnernati- 

can Er'ca Jen. physiciar-lumed-evolu- 
tionary-biologist Stuart Kauffman, Peter 
Schuster of the University of Vienna, 
Stanford economist W. Brian Arthur, 
and both Holland and Langton. And as 
much import is given to the younger re- 
searchers and postdocs at SFI like 
computer scientist Melanie Mitchell, a 
feme' student of Holland. Today she 
heads the Adaptive Computation Pro- 
gram- at SFI and is collaborating on no 
less than four projects, many of which 
.isc- gene: c algorithms or other compu- 
tational systems that mimic CAS's. Or 
the work of Stephanie Forrest, also a 
former student of Holland, now a pro- 
fessor at the University of New Mexico, 
who is working on foundations of ge- 
netic algorithms and modeling the im- 
mune system. 

SFI seems to have a near infinite po- 
tential for growth. As Dan Stein, Univer- 
sity of Arizona physicist and co-director 
of the summer school, points out: 
"Complex systems abound in the real 
world and reflect its inherent messi- 
ness." Like Simmons, Stein empha- 
sizes that there is no universal 
agreement on a definition of complex- 
ity. "It's almost a theological concept," 
he says. "Many people talk about it, 
but nobody knows what it es. Certainly, 
:here are some common themes ir 

■A-iat ias oeer oi.ooec compiexty re- 
search; a synthetic approach to prob- 
lems as opposed to a reductionist c 
one, a strong cross-disciplinary em- 
phasis, and a choice of problems that 
includes some of the best-known in- 
tractable issues in science." 

Whether or not SFI researchers 
agree on a definition of complexity, the 
Institute, through its summer-school " 
program, publications, and public lec- 
tures, is certainly becoming a force 
within the scientific community, It has 
even reached moderate financial sta- 
bility with funding from the Department 
of Energy and the National Science 
Foundation, consistent support from a 
number of corporations and founda- 
tions, including Citibank and the 
f-.'ac Arthur Foundation, and a regular 
flow of private contributions. The 
"Santa Fe Approach," based on the 
tenets of complexity, has alreacy been 
incorporated into mainstream eco- 
nomic thought, in large part due to the 
work of Brian Arthur, who had been 
thinking in complex terms about the 
same time the Los Alamos senior fel- 
lows were conceiving of the Institute. 
Simmons anticipates SFI will be doing 
more research in the biological sci- 
ences, particularly theoretical immunol- 
ogy and neurobiology and continued 

growth of the Artificial Life program 
which, led by Langton, has gained in* 
ternational attention (see Omni Inter- 
view, October 1991). 

Recently, the Institute initiated a pro- 
gram on the evolution of human culture 
as the first step toward workjng with the 
social sciences. "I don't think the Insti- 
tute should own these programs," says 
Simmons. "I think it should act as a cat- 
alyst for change, encouraging the 
movement of these kinds of research 
programs in:o ;ne n "ansiream at the 
grea: research universities." 

But it's not just the universities thai 
researchers at SFI hope to influence. 
The agenda is much larger than that 
and aimed, ultimately, at policymakers 
on a national and international level — 
those who can make a single decision 
and affect millions of people. "Policy 
tends to be made on the basis of argu- 
mentation," says Simmons, "Someone 
asserts on the basis of known or sus- 
pected facts that a proposed action will 
have certain effects, When you start to 
build a mathematical or computational 
model of a system of any sort, espe- 
cially a comoiex adapt ve system, you 
find that you have to be extremely 
careful about precisely what you mean 
by each term and how each effect is 
linked to each other effect. Running a 
model might convince someone that 
there are some things they don't under- 
stand." You may not be able to predict 
the future of the economy, but you can 
explore ways to keep it stable. 

For now, scientists working with com- 
o exity have a task rather similar to that 
of the poeis of the early twentieth cen- 
tury, who abandoned formal poetry for 
free verse. They understood it wasn't 
enough to forsake punctuation or es- 
chew rhyme; the poets had to find the 
right combination of variables and 
rules, in enumeration, enjambment, or 
alliteration, to make the words work as 
a poem. 

How close are they at SFI to mak ng 
complexity work as a science'' "I think 
we have all the right questions," says 
Simmons— questions that linger in the 
nai ways of the Institute, spawning an 
unusual combination of urgency and 
patience, eagerness and caution, as 
everyone goes about their two to three 
dozen individual tasks and waits for the 
answers, the sum, the whole, to 
emerge from the bottom up. As for the 
impact of the answers? Simmons says, 
spefikirg for himself, his colleagues, 
and ideally the policymakers, "If noth- 
ing else, confronting the difficulty of 
predicting the behavior of these model 
complex systems should make us 
humble about trying to predict real- 
world systems. "DO 



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Shortly before midnight of July 19, 1952, air-traffic controllers at Washington National 
Airport picked up a group of unidentified flying objects on their radar screens. Over 
the next three and a half hours, the targets - would disappear and reappear on their 
scopes. They were visually corroborated by incoming flight crews. At 3:00 in the morning, 
the Air Defense Command dispatched two F-94 jet interceptors, which failed to make 
contact with the targets. 

The following weekend, the same scenario virtually repeated itself. Unknown targets 
were picked up on radar and verified both by incoming pilots and ground observers. This 
time, the hurriedly scrambled jets did manage to make visual contact and establish a brief 
radar lock-on, and the general public joined in the hoopla as well. According to The UFO 
Controversy in America, by Temple University historian David Jacobs, "So many calls 

Editor's note: This is the second of a six-part series investigating UFOs and government secrecy 

through the years. The decade under scrutiny here is the 1950s. 


came into the Pentagon alone that its 
telephone circuits were completely tiec 
up with UFO inquiries for the next few 
days." In several major newspapers, 
the 1952 UFO flap even bumped the 
Democratic National Convention off the 
front-page headlines. 

The so-called "Washington Wave" 
also resulted in at least two events that 
have been debated ever since. On July 
29, in an attempt to queli public con- 
cern, the military held its larges: press 
conference since the end of WWII. 
Press conference heads Maj. Gen. 
John Samford, director of Air Force In- 
telligence, and Maj. Gen. Roger Ram- 
ey, chief of the Air Defense Command, 
denied that any interceptors had been 
scrambled and attributed the radar re- 
turns to temperature inversions, 

In addition, the Washington sight- 
ings led directly to the CIA-Sponsored 
Robertson Panel, so named after its 
chairman Dr. Harold P. Robertson, 
director of the Weapons Systems 
Evaluation Group for the secretary of 

defense. The Panel's basic 

mandate was outlined in a ~~ 
document later retrieved 
under the Freedom of Infor- 
mation Act (FOIA). 

In that crucial document, a 
1952 memorandum to the 
National Security Council 
(NSC), CiA director Walter 
Bedell Smith wrote that "a 
broader, coordinated effort 
should be initiated to develop 
a firm scientific understand rig 
of the several phenomena 
which are apparently involved 
in these reports, and to assure our- 
selves that [they] will not hamper our 
present efforts in the Cold War or con- 
fuse our ea'y warning system in case 
of an attack." 

In line with this mandate, the panel 
that finally convened in Washington, 
DC. in mid January of 1953 consisted 
of some of the best scientific minds of 
the day, Members included a future 
Nobel Prize laureate in physics. Luis 
Alvarez, formerly of Berkeley; physicist 
Samuei Goudsmit of the Brookhaven 
National Laboratories; and astronomer 
Thornton Page of Johns Hopkins Uni- 
versity, later with NASA. 

Yet for all of its scientific expertise 
the Panel's major recommendations fell 
mainly in the domain of public policy. 
After a review of the evidence, the 
Panel concluded that while UFOs 
rhemselves citi not necessarily "consti- 
tute a direct threat to the national secu- 
rity ... the continued emphasis on the 
reporting of these phenomena does 
[threaten] the orderly functioning of the 
protective organs of the body politic." 

56 OMNI 

Panel members recommended that 
"national-security agencies take steps 
immediately to strip the UFO phenome- 
non of its special status and eliminate 
the aura of mystery it has acquired." 
Perhaps a public-education program 
with the dual goals of "training and de- 

:-ia: Epparsntly [ne'e is or was an Air 
Force Project Aquarius that dealt with 
UFOs," G'oudie states, "Their own Pro- 
ject Aquarius, they said, did not, but 
they refused to say what it did deal 
with. They did admit it was classified 
top secret and that the release of any 

bunking" could be implemented? In documents would damage the national 
this context, the Panel -suggested that security. The Air Force denies the exist- 
the mass media might be brought to" enceof their own Project Aquarius, and 

bear on the problem, up to and includ- 
ing Walt Disney Productions! 

More interestingly, the Panel also 
recommended that pro-UFO grass- 
roots organizations be actively moni- 

NSA now says it was mistaken. 
They ought to get their stories s:ra ; gr :. 

"It's almost impossible to confirm that 
any individual action was directly dic- 
tated by the Robertson Panel," agre 

tored "because of their potentially great physicist and UFOIogist Stanton Fried- 

influence en -"ass thinking if wide- 
spread sightings should occur." Men- 
tioned by name were two organizations 
that had arisen in the wake of the 
Washington Wave: Civilian Saucer 
Intelligence of Los Angeles and the 
Aerial Phenomena Research Organ- 
ization of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, 
both now defunct. 
Is there evidence that such surveil- 

man, co-author of Crash a! Corona, 
"but was the subject defused at every 
available opportunity per its recom- 
mendations? You bet!" 

Friedman points specifically to a 

press release issued on October 25, 

1955, by the Department of Defense, 

cha r ed by secretary of the Air Force 

Donald Quarles. The occasion was the 

release of Speciai Report 14, issued by 

Project Blue Book, the Air 

Force agency publicly 

charged with investigating 

UFOs. Quarles said there 

was no reason to believe 

ihat any UFO had ever 

overflown the United 

States and that the 3 per- 

cent of unknowns reported 

the previous year could 

probably be identified with 

more information. 

As Friedman sees it, 
however, Special Report 
14 was the best UFO study 
3 conducted or that the Rob- ever conducted. Interpreting the report 
Panel recommendations for Omni, Friedman says it showed that 



milijercecl government policies? "The 
paper trail is sketchy at best," says 
Dale Goudie, a Seattle advertising 
agent and information director for the 
Ccniouicnzed UFO Network, or 
CUFON, an electronic bulletin board 
specializing in UFO documents re- 
trieved under the FOIA. "What we know 
is that some agencies tend to keep 
some old UFO files while throwing out 
or mysteriously losing others. For ex- 
ample, we know the FBI kept a file on 
George Adamsk ; , a famous UFO 'con- 
tactee' of the Fifties, perhaps because 
they thought he was a communist, and 
that the CIA had communicated with 
Maj. Donald Keyhoe, later one of the 
directors of the National Investigations 
Committee on Aerial Phenomena. 

"When it comes to their own pro- 
grams, however, the agencies are a bit 
more absent-minded." An example, 
says Goudie, is Project Aquarius. "The 

"over 20 percent of all UFO sightings 
investigated between 1947 and 1952 
were unknowns, and the better the 
quality of the sighting, the more likely it 
was to be an unknown. The press re- 
lease failed to mention any of the 240 
chart;: and tables in the original study." 
adds Friedman, "nor did it point out 
that the work had been done by the 
highly respected Baiielle Memorial In- 
stitute under contract to the Depart- 
ment of Air Force. It's a classic case," 
Friedman says, "of the government 
having two hands and the left one not 
Know ng what the right one is up to." 

Whatever the truth about UFOs, how- 
ever, the government tried mightily to 
conceal infe-maiior suggesting myste- 
rious origins afoot. For a population al- 
ready shaky over nuclear arsenals, 
cold war, and communists under every 
bush, officials may have reckoned that 
the notion of visitors from beyond, even 

National Security Agency [NSA] admit- imaginary ones, might just have been 
ted in a letter to Senator John Glenn too much to bear.DO 




C/""\ what you i 
&\J to do is 

put it with 

""^. body of a bird? 

that'll think, like . 
like Marcia?" 

out of Hong 
Kong the nex 
going on a 



re.~ote olace ir the Philippines, when 
was incidentally Marcia's homeland. 

I explained patiently, "I'm not trans- 
ferring her psyche, Steve; there are 
laws yga'nst that. All I want to do is 
copy Marcia's persona and superim- 
pose it upon that of the drongo's," 

"Okay Einstein, what's the differ- 
ence?" he said. 

"Her persona is simply her personal- 
ity, A psyche is someone's conscious 
and unconscious, someone's mind or 
self, if you like, I'm not allowed to screw 
around with psyches, although it is 
possib e to make a transfer under con- 
trolled conditions. Only the GRL, the 
Government Research Labs, are per- 
mitted to dabble in that. This won't hurt 
her in the least, and she'll have the sat- 
isfaction of knowing she's furthering my 
studies of behavior patterns in wild 

"What if I don't want you to mess 
around with my girl's persona?" 

"Stevie . . ." said Marcia, in that soft 
voice she has, but he cut her oft with, 
"No, wait; I want to hear what 
Einstein here has to say about 
it. You just keep quiet for a 
minute. No, I'm sorry Marcia: 
this is for me ;o decide 
whether it's right for you to do 
this or not. You don't under- 
stand these things like we 

yoj c ubbec a mar senseless and took 
his meat and his woman and made 
sure you felt damn good about it. Any 
wea<ress in you would be exp cited 
and you would become carrion for the 

I did not consider Steve a bad man, 
and most other men liked his company, 
many women too if they were the kind 
who preferred being told what to do," 
but there were others who considered 
him an aggress ve thick-3-;irne::i bu 1 ' 

I hadn't -old Steve that the reason I 
wanted Marcia's persona, as opposed 
to any other, was because of my obser- 
vations of their relationship. Steve had 
always been the bully, and the person 
who took the brunt of his obnoxious be- 
havior was Marcia. She, on the other 
hand, had soaked up his abuse with 
not a flicker of annoyance or rets ation. 
I used to sit and watch her being ver- 
bally attacked, Steve imposing his will 
on her with unbelievable Insensftivity; 
and yet she took it all calmly, letting it 
all wash over her, leaving her un- 


Steve can be a real pain in 
the ass when he wants to be, 
which is most of the time, but 
he is my brother and 1 put up 
with him because I love him. 
He is unbelievably insecure, 
and this manifests itself in hostility and 
aggression.. Tonight, he was being 
nice; any other time he would have 
blown his. stack and started throwing 
things around the room. He always 
mellowed a little prior to travel, gradu- 
ally becoming as pliant as he would 
ever oe wit. Vlarcia, or any woman. 

Men could take him better than 
women: They recognized the appre- 
hensive hunter-gatherer in him as 
something they had within themselves, 
though often not to the same extreme. 
S:eve w.>,s one of those people who be- 
lieved you had to prove yourself all the 
time, against the competition. If you 
didn't, you would be taken advantage 
of, and eaten alive. They would fall on 
you like jackals while you were ex- 
posed to them. You had to keep your 
defenses up, show them you were a 
man to be reckoned with, never let 
them see your vulnerability. 

He played squash as if to lose would 
mean the guillotine. He was merciless 
against business rivals. My older 
brother was still living in a world where 
so OMNI 






moved. She wasn't submissive, not in a 
way that was visible; she just allowed if 
to happen while seemingly unim- 

"I think it's for Marcia to decide, not 
you Steve. I'm not asking you for your 
persona, and Marcia is a grown 
woman, She doesn't need your permis- 

"You don't need to do any:h ; ng cl '.he 
sort. She's a capable person." 

Steve was typical of many expatri- 
ates living in a Far Eastern enclave 
consisting mostly "'of other expats, He 
was conservative, thoroughly conven- 
tional, and about a hundred years be- 
hind the times. His passport said he 
was an Amer-european, but in truth we 
had long since left our original national- 
ities behind and had become some- 
thing else. I'm not sure what. Gwailos I 
suppose, which is the Cantonese term 
for all Caucasians living in their society 
Literally it means foreign devil, but lan- 
guage is dynamic and it has become a 

quick description of a Western busi- 
nessman living on the China coast, out 
of touch with 'eality, nolomg on to out- 
of-date values, talking in cliches. 

There are Chinese businessmen like 
Steve who exploit the. local labor, but 
they don't make excuses for the poor 
pay they offer; they simply do it. Steve 
thought the Thatcher-Reagan years of 
the last century were wonderful, but of 
course he only went to Britain and 
America for business conferences, a 
few days, nothing more. 

"Is that what you think?" said Steve, 
his tone belligerent. "Well, okay, I'll 
leave the decision to her, but I'm going 
to come along, I only have her best In- 
terests at ieart." 

Marcia was the immovable object 
who took all he had to throw at her and 
remained intact, without reprisal, win- 
out going under, She was a small 
woman, even for a Filipino, with a gen- 
tle smile. She withstood the storms and 
remained undaunted. The Filipino 
maids, fifty thousand of them in Hong 
Kong, were an accommo- 
dating group. Most of them 
considered a little abuse 
worth pursuing the roman- 
tic dream of marrying out 
of the terrible poverty 
which was their cultural 
heritage. Even if the man 
be a boorish old fart like 
Sieve, twice her age and 
with a body ravaged by 
too many gins. 

"That's what I think, 
Steve. . . ." 
In the end, I had my way, 
and Steve even drove us to the lab in 
his new Mercedes, chatting quite ami- 
ably on the journey under the forest 
canopy of neon branches that grew 
from buildings either side of the street 
The night watchman was a little sur- 
prised to see us, at eleven in the 
evening, but he let us in, and stood by 
the lab door in that guarded manner of 
the Cantonese security worker dealing 
with the unusual, wondering whether 
he is going to get into trouble for allow- 
ing someone to enter the building after 
hours, even if that someone was per- 
fectly entitled to be there. The Can- 
tonese like to live lives of complete 
order, within a vast sea ot chaos. 

Marcia went into the scanner cubicle 
a little nervously, though it is one of the 
newer devices produced by Walker 
and Quntan, in which the' subject 
stands upright, rather than one of the 
more common horizontal coffin affairs 
of Stebling, Inc. Steve chatted to the 
night watchman, while I took the read- 
ing, then when everything checked out. 
proceeded td take a facsimile of 


i uieraic nudes watched with enwA^*^/^ 



Ivlarc as oe'sora on disk. 

When I had finished with Marcia, I 
asted Sieve to step into the cubicle. 

He stuck out his jaw. 

"Why? What do you want my person- 
ality for? I thought you considered it 
pretty shitty?" 

"Don't make a fuss, Steve; I'm not 
going to hurt you." 

This struck at the core of his man- 
hood, as I Knew it would, He went 
straight into the cubicle to prove he 
was not afraid of anything, even if his 
broiher was a mad scientist. 

"Okay," he growled, from within, "but 
if I start growing hairs on the palms of 
my hands, Pete, I'm coming looking for 
my little brother to eat," 

It was all over by twelve, and we 
went for a final coffee at the glitzy 
Peninsula Hotel on Nathan Road, with 
its string quartet. 

I saw them off at the airport the next 
morning, Steve grumbling at the taxi 
driver most of the way, because he 
wasn't driving fast enough, and Marcia 
talking to me in that soft tone 
quite unlike the voice she 
used when talking in Tagalog 
to her fellow Filipinos. Steve 
was definitely more mellow 
now. In the old days he would 
have taken time out to snap at 
her and ask me what I found 
so interesting in her "drivel," 
but that day he simply gave 
her one or two side glances, 
not without a trace of fond- 
ness in them. They were to be 
gone for the whole of July and 
August, the terrible months in 
Hong Kong. 

A week after they had left I began 
my exoeriment. 

The Chinese government had em- 
ployed me as a lecturer on Animal Be- 
havior at the University of Hong Kong, 
but I was permitted, even expected., to 
carry out my own research. Any find- 
ings would of course be credited to the 
university as well as myself, thus gain- 
ing face 'or my Chinese employers. 

My specific interest at this time was 
animal aggression. What I wanted to 
do was to superimpose a placid per- 
sona on an aggressive wild creature, in 
order to study the reactions of the crea- 
ture's own kind and to see whether 
rhere was any change in their behavior 
toward the subject, and indeed 
whether the subject showed any signs 
of reverting to type. 

The creature I had chosen was a 
black drongo (Dicrurus macrocercus), 
a bird about the size of a jackdaw. It is 
a quarrelsome creature, known in India 
as King Crow because of its habit of 
mobbing the much larger members of 

the Ccrvidae 'a r " : ly. If. ~ghls s^orgsi 
its own kind, for scraos o J food. InoLgn 
there are'no recorded combais ending 
in fatalities. The black drongo has an 
unusual catlike hissing call, which is 
quite disturbing to other birds. 

I had three black drongos, caught on 
the Mai Po Marshes of what used to be 
the New Territories, when Hong Kong, 
was a colony. The marshes, founded 
as a bird sanctuary in the last century 
by a man called Peter Scott, is a rest- 
ing place for thousands of migrating 
birds on their way to and from SE Asia 
The black drongo and hair-crested 
drongo are summer visitors, however, 
and stay in the area for breeding, The 
other birds must breathe a sigh of relief 
when the drongos leave for other parts, 
at the end of the hot season. 

I chose a female for the subject (for 
no other reason than Marcia was a fe- 
male) and called her Yat Ho, or Num- 
oer One. The otner pa - were of course 
Yi Ho and Sam Ho — Two and Three, 
Marcia's persona overlaid that of Yat 






Ho's, and I introcuceo hie sub ect bac-; 
into the aviary, while my students put 
fiemselves n cha'ge of the video cam- 
eras, ever eage r to reco'd experiments 
and pore over the results.- They are a 
good bunch, this year. Some under- 
graduates spend much of their student 
life in the gaming halls of Wan Ghai dis- 
trict, risking failure for the sake of glitz, 
but then many of them are from remote 
villages in the north, and the bleeping 
ano pinging of the gaming machines in 
the neon-lit halls act like sirens on 

At first, the expected happened. Yat 
Ho's strange docile behavior kept the 
other two birds at a distance. The un- 
usual was distrusted, and it was doubt- 
ful whether they actually recognized 
and identified her as a drongo. It's pos- 
sibe they thought she was some other 
kind of bird, and it puzzled them that 
she looked, sounded, and smelled like 
one of them. They fought amongst 
themselves and were wary if she ap- 

Then suddenly, as if working in con- 

cert, they began to attack and bully 
her, shouldering her out of the way of 
"ood. oeckirg, hissing, ard Treating ne- 
w'tn disdain. Sam Ho was part cularly 
vicious and treated Yat Ho with utter 
disdain, as if she were some kind of 
traitor to her kind. 

She did nothing. True to Marcia's 
persona, she took everything they had 
to give her and remained unmoved. 
The students were terribly exc'ted by 
this, never having witnessed anything 
like it before in their golden days of 
learning. They could talk of nothing 
else but the drongos for the next s x 
weeks, as Ya! Ho continued to survive, 
simply by showing no reaction to the 
bullying — simply by being. 

I must have been pretty boring too, 
as a date, My girlfriend, Xia, a Han Chi- 
nese from the north, is normally fairly 
tolerant of my enthusing, but I think 
those first few drongo weeks strained 
even her elastic patience. 

Then something remarkable began 
to happen, which I should. have ex- 
pected, but which actually 
surprised me. The re- 
silience of Yat Ho began to 
wear down the energy of 
the other two birds, espe- 
cially Sam Ho, the mam 
contender for bully of the 
season. She simply took 
what they had to offer in 
the way of violence, but 
when she remained seem- 
ingly unaffected by their 
aggressive behavior, they 
gradually ceased to attack 
her. They still fought 
amongst themselves, but in their deal- 
ings with Yat Ho, they were almost nau- 
seathgiy f'endly. 

"They even bring her bits of food," 
cried Penny Lau, one of my students, 
"and she takes the pieces as if she de- 
serves them." 

It was true. They were courting her 
friendship, trying to get her to like 
them, forgive them for their earlier treat- 
ment of her i ■■■■vas J asc ; na"ed. What on 
Earth was going on here? I couldn't get 
my notes on tape fast enough, 

One evening, about the seventh 
week, 1 was sitting outside the aviary 
on my own, idly watching my three 
drongos. The students had all gone out 
for the evening, It was a holiday, Liber- 
ation Day, and they were out celebrat- 
ing. Suddenly, something horrible 
occurred in that artificial world behind 
:he glass screen. 

Sam Ho was perched next to Yat Ho, 
their scapular feathers touching, wner 
she turned and deliberately peckec 
though his right eye, into his brain. 
Sam Ho fell to the ground, fluttering 

and convulsirg. but irstead of I'yng off 
to some oth.e' oart of t-ie aviary, Yat Ho 
dropped on him like a hawk, and pro L 
cecded to peck the wounded bird to 
death. Yi Ho came up to find out what 
the fuss was all about, and Yat Ho fell 
on the second bird, who was killed 
even more quickly than the first. When 
she had finished her murders, Yat Ho 
calmly wiped her beak on the mossy 
branch of a tree, and took up her posi- 
tion on the original perch. 

I was shocked. This was somci'iinc 
quite out of the scope of my studies, 
even amongst aggression in carni- 
vores. There was a cold feeling in the 
pit of my stomach, I could hardly be- 
lieve that my bird was capable of such 
terrible violence. Black drongos might 
be aggressive, but they did not to my 
knowledge k : : each other. The respon- 
se ity for those deaths resided with 
me. I had altered the normal relation- 
ship, by introducing unusual behavior 
patterns into the equation. 

It was only in the taxi, on the way 
home, that another, more terr'ble 
thought still, came 10 mind: a nightmare 
in fact There were another set of per- 
sona i es in play, in a relationship that I 
had well-meaningly tampered with. 
That night I slept very little, and went 
through vast amounts of material, look- 
ing for reasons. I believed my concern 
was very real, 

The following day I took a rain check 
on my lunch date with Xia, and instead 
went to the University canteen looking 
for Professor Chang Yip, the resident 
psychoanalyst sat down next to him 
and immediately launched into a de- 
scription of the previous night's events, 
telling him what I had set out to do at 
the commencement of the experiment, 
and what had been the final result. He 
stared at me throughout my explana- 
tion, a blank expression on his face, as 
if he was wondering why the hell I was 
telling him all this. 

"My question to you, professor, con- 
cerns human behavior. Is there a ... a 
personality disorder that you are aware 
of, in which the subject is docile while 
under attack from an aggressive per- 
son, yet explodes in sudden violence 
when that aggression is no longer in 
evidence? I'm wondering whether, 
once the aggressor becomes docile 
himself and apparently vulnerable, the 
subject takes the opportunity to at- 
tack . , , ?" 

Professor Chang shook his head and 
looked down at his half-eaten fried 
noodles and prawns. 

"1 don't understand why you ask '~e 
rh s^ What have birds got to do with the 
psychoanalysis of people?" 

"It's just something I'm interested in." 


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I replied. "It's not really relevant to my 
studies, but I would like to know." 

"Birds are not people," were his final 
words, and then he got up and left, 
leaving the remainder of his lunch. 

This is the kind of thing that can hap- 
pen in a university with no tenures. The 
staff are suspicious of one another, and 
they like to keep things close to their 
chest. There are a lot of po ios, s ways 
in the wind, and people are insecure. 
You can be indispensable to the faculty 
one term, and out on your ear the next. 
So if someone from another depart- 
ment comes to you with a request, sug- 
gestion, idea, anything, you listen, but 
give nothing whatsoever in return, 

I remained very worried about the 
situation in the Philippines. Steve, once 
icibly aggressive, had been tamed by 
me. When he was in the scanner cubi- 
cle the night before he left with Marcia 
for the Philippines, I had superimposed 
the personality of a dove over his own. 
He was now, to my way of thinking, vul- 
nerable. He had in effect been trans- 
formed from a drongo to a 
dove, and I wanted to make 
sure that everything was all 
right, for Marcia s sake as we 
as my brother's. 

In the evening, I teleohoned 
Steve. It took three attempts, 
but I finally had him on the 

sion in the tone. 

"You don't find it . . . irritating, or 

There was a long pause, then, "No. 
Look, Peter, I have to go. Steve's call- 
ing me from the lift. Bye." 

"Marcia . . . ?" 

She had hung up on me. 

I bit my nails. Well, they sounded all 
right, I supposed. Steve was docile of" 
course, but otherwise okay. And Mar- 
cia? I just didn't know. Yat Ho had ex- 
ploded all at once, without warning. 
How could I tell 9 Marcia might wake up 
in the middle of the night and realize 
that this aggressive beast who had tor- 
mented her in the past was now at her 
mercy, look down at his eyes, vulnera- 
ble, exposed, She might get out of 
bed, find a pair of scissors, and plunge 
them ... I: just did not bear thinking 

How could I tell her that ii wasn't 
Steve I was worried about, but ner— 
that there was a potential murderer, 
locked up .[' thai sweel oersonality she 

"How are you?" I asked, 

"Me? Couldn't be better, 
why?" he said in a pleasant 
voice. "Anything happened?" 

"Nothing, nothing really. I 
just hadn't heard from either of you, 
and . . . well, I heard something about 
rebels in the north." 

Steve laughed. 

"There's always some trouble with 
the north, you know that. Look, I'm due 
to meet someone, Pete — business, you 
know. Was there something spe- 
cific . . . ?" 

"No. Maybe I could have a word w th 
Marcia, before I ring off. Is she there?" 

"What about?" 

"Mind your own goddamn business," 
I said with mock aggression. He 
laughed again and the next voice that I 
heard was Marcla's, 


"Marcia, how — how do you feel?" 

"I'm fine, thank you." 

"Good, good. How's Steve. How are 
you getting on with him over there?" 

She said in that calm voice of hers, 
"Well, the Philippines must be good for 
him. He's so nice to me. I can': believe 
it really. . . ," 

"You don't mind that?" 

"Of course not," still no real expres- 

64 OMNI 




on the Waterloo Road. 

All this reflected on me and my posi- 
tion at the university, and I hit on the 
idea of iaming him, calming him down. 
J co.i'se. woud never have got him 
to the doctor, and even if I had, he 
would have refused any treatment. So I 
ni! on the idea r/ overlay ng r's oer- 
sona with that of a dove's, which would 
encourage the exposure of his real but- 
ter-soft self underneath. I didn't want 
Steve suspecting anything, so I 
planned to get him into the laboratory 
by using Marcia as an excuse. 

After my phone call with Steve and 
Marcia, I went back to the lab, where 
Yat Ho awaited me. I placed her under 
the scanner and removed the superim- 
posed persona, then put her bacK in 
the aviary with two more drongos. 

She quarreled with them, fighting 
over perches and food, but there were 
no combats resulting in injury or death. 
I stayed tnere for twelve hours, stud.y- 
ng the creatures, and in the end went 
home convinced that she had returned 
to her old self, a nasty 
bickering bird like all the 
other black drongos in the 
world, but with no desire to 


showed the world? How could I explain 
she had a demon inside her, waiting for 
the moment when Steve no longer psy- 
chologically presented a frightening 
fo-mdabie monster to her but instead 
revealed the pathetic creature under- 
neath, the real Steven, who required re- 
assurance, support, love. How could I 
tell her that there was a strong oossib - 
ity she would then regard him as her 

Two months ago, when Steve intro- 
duced me to Marcia, I had formed an 
alliance with her. Steve was at that time 
heading for all sorts of trouble. He 
was up on an assault charge, for 
punching a toilet attendant in a hotel 
for splashing his trousers with water 
There were complaints at his club 
about his benavior after he had 
been drinking, and people were ask- 
ing for him to be thrown out. There 
was some ous ness about a scrape 
with a Porsche, the owner maintaining 
that Steve had bumped him from the 
rear on purpose, presumably because 
he had overtaken Sieve's Merceces 

There was no change in 
the situation over the next 
two days, and I waited on 
hot bricks for my brother 
and Marcia to arrive back 
in Hong Kong. 

The day arrived when 
they were due in from the 
Philippines and I drove 
down to Kai Tak airport to 
meet them with a churning stomach. 
Was Steve all right? Was Ma-'cia still the 
sweet lovable woman she had been on 
leaving Hong Kong" Was I in fact 
be : nc unrecessanly siupd in thinking 
that the benavior of a bird m.gni rated 
the behavior of a human being? Per- 
haps Yat Ho was just a strange drongo, 
given to bursts of vicience anyway 9 
Animals and birds have their menta 
problems too. My mind was like a 
maelstrom, spiraling the thoughts 
round and round, and dredging them 
back up again. 

I waited at the bottom of the ramp in 
the airport concourse for my brother 
and his g riiriend to appear, Kai Tak 
was, as usual, monstrously crowded 
with thousands of Chinese milling 
around waiting fc reiat ves and fr enos. 
amazingly managing to avoid touching 
each oner — a personal contact they 
dislike intensely — though I would have 
had difficulty in sliding a piece of paper 
down the spaces between them. My 
"earl was beating against my ribs, and 
for the first time in many years I was 

3'Tokhg again. I glanced a: :he absls 
on the suitcases as oassenge^s cs~e 
down the ramp, for Philippine Air' nes' 
labels, and soon they began fi ter'ng 
past me. 

Then suddenly, There they were, 
amongst the sea of black heads, at the 
top of the ramp. The relief flooded 
through me, and I kicked myself for 
being so paranoid. What an io'iot. To 
think that a sweet girl like Marcia was 
capable of kiiling someone! Mow that 
they were home, safe and sound, the 
idea seemed ludicrous, even heinous. I 
vowed never to tell them of my fears. 

I signaled, made myself visible to 
Steve, then went to take a place in the 
queue for taxis. 

Steve 'eached me, just as I was 
coming to the head of the queue. Mar- 
cia was nowhere to be seen. I had as- 
sumed, because she was so small, she 
had been down below the crowd. 

We shook hands and I said, "Didn't I 
see Marcia?" Steve shrugged and 

"She wanted to stay on for a few 
days, to see some relatives." 

That sounded reasonable. Her family 
was out on one of the many smaller is- 
lands, while she and Steve had been 
staying on the main island. 

On the taxi drive to Steve's club, 

where he intended to leave his suit- 
case and have a meal. I studied my 
older brother. He seemed calm and re- 
laxed, and in quite a good frame of 
mind, considering he had been through 
the stress of travel. 

Still, so long as :iere was no harm 
done, what did it matter now? 

He seemed distracted, however, so I 
did not press him with questions until 
we were actually sitting down to a meal 
in the club dining room. 

"How was the trip?" I asked, 

"Oh, fine." 

He played with his table napkin as I 
spoke, rearranging it carefully on his 
lap, although this had been done once 
by the waiter. 

"No problems, business-wise?" 

"No, everything went according to 

"And Marcia? She enjoyed the 
break?" He nodded. 

"So far as I know." 

The soup arrived at this point, and I 
ceased probing. He certainly looked 
well enough, but there was something 
about his manner which worried me, 
He was too distant, even for someone 
who was a little jet-lagged, and I won- 
dered if his business had really gone 
well. Then a thought struck me. What if 
Marcia had attacked him, and he, 

being a strong male, had prevented 
her from injur rg h m? L; e r raps my con- 
cern for his safety was .ustifiec after all, 
but he had successfully protected 
himself from the kind of deadly attack I 
■vac', witnessed from my black drorao. 
Yat Ho. 

I was about to say something, when 
tiree peopie wakeo through the door. 
One was a s~all olive-sk nned man 
with a blunt chin and determined look. 
He was flanked by two uniformed 
Hong Kong policemen: an inspector 
and a sergeant. They spoke to a waiter, 
who poimed towards cur table. The trio 
then made their way through the din- 
ers, to stand behind my brother. 

The man in civilian clothes spoke, 
and I knew then that he was a Filipino. 

"Mr. Steven Bordas?" 

Steve turned, his head, wiping his 
chin with his napkin at the same time. 


"I am Sergeant Callita. You are under 
arrest. ..." 

I must have heard any words that fol- 
lowed, but their memory is lost in the 
buzzing of shock that overcame me, 
Steve looked at me and gave me a 
tight smile, which said, We both knew 
that one day I would do something like 

I grabbed the Filipino poncemsrs 

"It's not his fault: it's mine." 

It was so clear-to me now, now it was 
too late. Yat Ho had not killed because 
of the change in the other two drongos, 
but because of the unnatural suppres- 
sion of her own aggression. I had over- 
laid her real personality with a placid 
one. effectively sealing it off. The 
drongo persona had bubbled under- 
neath, unable to find a safety valve to 
relieve the pressure, and finally she 
had exploded. I should have been 
co-panng Yat Ho with Steve, not with 
Marcia, having done the same thing to 
my brother's natural aggression. 

He had murdered Marciai 

Steve was taken away and 1 called to 
him that I would get his lawyer on the 
phone. He waved his hand over his 
shoulder, as if he did not really care 
what I did. 

I sat in the restaurant, stunned by 
what had happened. Poor Marcia, I 
thought. Poor sweet innocent Marcia. I 
had been instrumental in her death, as 
they say, by experimenting on my own 
brother. It was a terrible thing to do. I 
was determined that it should all come 
out at the trial. I would defend my 
brother with the truth. Poor Steve. 

While these thoughts were running 
through my head, Marcia walked into 
the room, saw me. and waved, She 
crossed the floor and took a chair op- 



If five years ago you 
asked Margie Prolet 
whai she did, she 
would toss baGk her 
long blonde hair, 
laugh, and say in that 
breathless voice of 
hers, "Oh. I'm just be- 
ing a bum." And if 
she'd told you what 
she really was do- 
ing — working part- 
time jobs in San 
Francisco but mostly 

hanging out, thinking, 
and reading in her 
apartment — you'd 
probably agree. 

Two centuries ago. 
Profet. who holds 
bachelors degrees 
from both Harvard 
and Berkeley, would 
have been called a 
natural philosopher. 
But late-twentieth- 
century big-time sci- 
ence, with its super- 









colliders and genome 
projects, has little 
place for a natural 
philosopher. Yet Prof- 
et, with neither formal 
academic credentials 
nor a university posi- 
licn. nas persevered, 
driven by her desire 
to know answers to 
one of the biggest 
questions: why hu- 
mans evolved the way 
they have. 

Her recent life 
sounds like a Cinder- 
ella story. Beginning 
in the mid Eighties, 
Profet practiced her 
solitary scholarship in 
a Berkeley studio 
modeled on a medi- 
eval garret complete 
with stucco fireplace 
and heavy wooden 
ceiling beams. A 
cadre of squirrels and 
scrub jays roamed the 

apartmGnt with impunity, 
seeking the peanuts she 
kept ready, as Profet 
troubled out evolutionary 
explanations for such rid- 
dles in human phys elegy as 
why women menstruate and 
how allergies have affected 
our survival. Then last 
spring, her prince arrived in 
the form of a $250,000 Mac- 
Arthur grant that finally freed 
the 35-year-old researcher 
to devote herself entirely to 
some of the most daring 
and useful thinking in evolu- 
tionary biology today. 

Profet focuses on three 
areas of evolutionary phys- 
iology, all with powerful 
clinical applications. Her 
first work, proposing that 
pregnancy sickness pre- 
vents mothers from eating 
foods that might damage 
their fetuses, has steadily 
gained acceptance in the 
medical community. An 
early article explores how 
allergies shield us from 

toxins in plants and venoms, 
Recently, sne gained nation- 
al attention by suggos.hy 
menstruation serves to 
cleanse the uterine walls of 
sperm-born pathogens. 

Deep into the books and 
papers of evolutionary biol- 
ogy but lacking any formal 
training in it, Profet one day 
found herself listening to 
several pregnanl relatives 
gripe about morning sick- 
ness. She asked herself, Did 
pregnant women of the 
Pleistocene avoid certain 
foods that brought on 
nausea? "Pregnancy sick- 
ness was curious," Profet 
recalls thinking. "It only last-, 
ed for a while but was 
strong. The food made them 
sick, so it must have some 
bad things in it. I started to 
think about whether it made 
sense, just for fun." 

Insight does not equal 
proof, so Profet spent 
months buttressing theory 
with exiC"-svo eseaxh ir:c 


MacAtthur Award, 1993 


None . . " 


People-used to ask, "What 
do you do?" You can't ■ 
. say, "Oh, I'm thinking," so 
you say, "Oh, I'm being 
a bum," because even if 
you don't say if , they 
treat you like.a bumwho's 
wasted a life. 


■Now that I've won the ■ 
MaoArtl-i.j-, people ask r 
I'm going to get a ■ 
Ph,D. Why on Earth? iwoa 


Protecting Your Embryo ". 

the literature. Her arguments 
were so persuasive that a 
leading journal in the field 
published her paper. A 
recent article constituted the 
greater part of last Septem- 
ber's issue of the Quarterly 
Review of Biology: 

As a child growing up in 
the suburban aerospace 
community of Manhattan 
Beach, California, she saw 
little appeal in the so-called 
normal lifestyle. "I remem- 
ber looking at people going 
to the office every day and 
housewives doing this and 
that, and thinking at age 7 
Life is really boring, " says 
Profet, the child of a phys- 
icist father and engineer 
mother. Life grew more 
interesting when she en- 
tered Harvard and majored 
n pclitcal philosophy, "My 
brain grew a lot, When 
you're working hard at phil- 
osophy, you take ideas that 
on the surface don't seem 
connected and go a evel 

deeper," she says. Wnile 
spending two years in Ger- 
many working as a com- 
puter programmer, she be- 
gan to see that political 
philosophy had qo answers 
for questions that intrigued 
her. Despite a distaste for 
regimented learning, she 
returned to school, this time 
to Berkeley, to study phys- 
ics. But physics also 
couldn't satisfy her lust to 
know why. 

She decided to just think, 
supporting herself with a 
string of part-time jobs, 
"Even with my Harvard 
degree and physics degree, 
people would be really in- 
sulted when I applied for 
jobs because I was differ- 
ent," she remembers. Even- 
tualy, toxicoiogist Bruce 
Ames" [Omni interview, 
February 1991J, whom she 
says "collects eccentrics," 
read her allergy paper and 
offered her a part-time 
research job in his lab. 

A few months after get- 
ting the MacArthur, Profet 
gave herself a sabbatical, 
leaving behind her squirrels 
and sliver view of the bay. 
Now in Seattle, she con- 
tinues her work on allergies 
and is converting her re- 
search on pregnancy sick- 
ness into a book Protecung 
Your Embryo, Interviewer 
Shari Rudavsky first visited 
Profet shortly before she 
moved. As the fame squir- 
rels interrupted periodica ly 
to agitate for peanuts, Profet 
shared her provocative 
thoughts on science, medi- 
cine, and academe. 

Omni: Your work seems to 
depict the body as en- 
gaged n a constant battle 
with loxins arc pathogens in 
the environment. 
Profet: Well, parts of ;he 
body, We're in a co-evolu- 
tionary race with a zillion or- 
ganisms out there. Bactena 
ano viruses want to exploit 
us the way we exploit other 

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anima.s. We ea; plams. annuals sic. 
ki I cl. i" neighbors. So an awful lot of 
what our body does is geared :cwa v o 
defense against other organisms. 
Some defenses haven't been appreci- 
ated as such. These anomalies in par- 
ticular, macroscopic enough thai 
anyone car see them, incest mo 
Omni: All ere es you write, evolved as a 
:£ st defense aga -ist erv rcv-ental tox- 
ins. How do allergens and toxins differ? 
Profet: The ai.ergen — the molecule 
your immune system acually targets — 
may be a tiny toxin or a much large - 
protein commonly associated with it, 
Cc~pa'"ed to a toxin, the protein's a big 
target for .he immune system. Say 
somebody eats a peanut at age 10 and 
sudden y becomes allergic to peanuts, 
this allergy was o'cbaby caused oy a 
toxin, either a natural peanut tox n o - 
one from a mold that had infected the 
peanut. Your immune system says, 
"Aha, a toxin! And this protein ' 
ciated with that to; 
protein." Because 
that protein is now . 
Omni: Why did you 
Profet: I have a lot 
poos and soaps L 

night scratching, I thought. What the 
heii is this tor? I knew al ergies were 
caused by this one. highly special zed 

class of antibody, so they n 
function. Well, what are the 
of an allergy? You're either 
something off, vo~:rg h 
rhea, tearing, sneezing, or ; 
seems you're trying to expe 
immediately, not three days 
bacterial infection or virus, 
immediately dange-cus Bta 
this dangerous mechansm 
lead to anaphylactic shoe 
and bacteria give you thes 
only if you've got <ood pi 
wondered if allergies evolve 
against toxins. 
Omni: Why do people s 
capriciousness, or variety, i 
of things they're allergic to? 
Profet: Our different geneti 

3 of c 

Omni: How does you- theory stack jp 
against the competing helminth hy- 
oclhos : s? [The helminth' hypothesis, c 
Tire wo-.ri ihc-cry ' suqaests the im- 

:::r,"eelly largeis errs- s.ibs-an: 
leading to an allergic reaction.] 
Profet. Unfortunate y r ycu read i 
v article on the '"e ; ""ir:n rypothi 
II get glowing reports cf a the 
ce in suppo't of it. But then 

e-ila-ged :hiyhs— c- terrible chronic 
oulmcnary disease. IgE levels have no 
correlation with a person's ability to 
expel these worms. 

Mow the thinking among some im- 
munologisls and oarasiio-caisfs s: 
"Well, maybe IgE evolved to protect 
against helminths but doesn't now be- 
cause :"-:■: / ■■ m.. rave gctten so so- 
on isti caret: ' T-- -- y dangerous pan 
of this is that researchers now want to 
iduce a strong IgE 
who have worms. 
I peopie right and 
' rey'd 

find a vaccine to 
response in peopl 


cepted immune cgicai canon. Did you 
have problems getting oeoole to con- 
sider that the standard thinking mignt 
be wrong? 

Profet: The comments I got on my 
Quarterly Rcviev/ o; B^cgy oaper rep- 
resent wnat's wrong with much of the 
:l~ ."King, i cut a se-.ierce f, "om ore ref- 

al communtv 
ediaied re- 
peal with par- 

rotein is asso- 

down toxirs < 

-j more of that 

and exc-etabl 

better target. 

enzymes for a 


an irreversibly 

t allergies 7 

. circulating in 

gies to sham- 

you'll probably 

bed late one 

It depends on 

three decades'" 
Profet: I can't fif 
ing article argi 
likely that the' h 
ing the IgE sys 
fit. Look at th< 


ntology for 
y forrhcom- 

i tnai i 

oon't have Ine inducibility of your 
zyme systems, and your genetics. 


• oulat- 
oiher things we get 
m, certain drugs, car- 
ls, foods, pollens — all 

are toxins or contain toxins. The 
helminth people just ignore this. They 
found a pathogen they've sometimes 
corrected with high IgE levels, and so 
they think IgE evolved 10 fight 
helminths. All the other cases of IgE 
ihsy seem to think are just mistakes in 
the immune system. The common 
thinking is: "Long ago, we all had such 
heavy worm burdens that IgE's were 
kept busy doing what they were sup- 
posed io do. But now. we don't have a 
lot of worms, and. so these IgE's are 
busy locking around for something else 
to do; they target incorrect molecules." 
[signsj The thinking is so warped. If the 
body's IgE system must be perma- 
nently at war with worms to function 
properly, it must not be good at ex- 
posing wo'ins, because people have 
rhese infections for 20 years. 
Omni: Has your theory affected the 
way you deal with your allergies? 
Profet: Definitely. I tend to find one 
thing I like and pig out on it for weeks 
and weeks — just what you're not sup- 
posed to do. You're supposed to diver- 
sify your diet. I love strawberries, so of 
course. May came along, and I ate two 
caskets at once, and of course there 
happened to be mold in them, I could 
taste it and spat some out, but I also 
swaltowsd some. The next time I had a 
whole basket, I became nauseated,, 
and soon, with only one strawberry, I 
was out for a couple of hours. 
Omni: Why are chronic respiratory al- 
le-rg es so common today? 
Profet: His-.o.-ically, they appear (airly 
new. What precipitated this' 9 People 
are too miserable. You can't live a nor- 
mal life always being on antihista- 
mines, sneezing, coughing, tearing, 
and itching all the time. There are cer- 
tainly correlations witn the number of 
panic es in the air, but the main thing is 
the number of viral respiratory infec- 
tions you get while young. In a hunter- 
gatherer society, you're probably in 
contact with a few hundred people 
your entire life. As a modern child 
going to daycare, by the time you're 6, 
you've had an average of 22 colds. 
That's not normal in an evolutionary 
sense, A child win so many infections 
may have a lot of temporary lung le- 
sions, so it may be easier for a pollen 
toxin to get more deeply emoedcee 
and so trigger production of IgE. That's 
my guess, 

Omni Are people without allergies at a 

Profet: Somebody with the full capacity 
for allergies but has none is probably 
very healthy, But if you don't have ca- 
pacity for allergies, or you have a low 
capacity, then you may be in trouble. 
Omni: What was it that led you to link 

men" ng s c<ness to diet? 
Profet: A lot of siblings and siblings-in- 
law were going through pregnancy 
sickness, and l s;arted woncle-irg 
whether Pleistocene women couldn't 
eat when pregnant, I read Marjorie 
Shos".3<3 Cook Nisa, ard one way a 
Kung-San woman knows she's preg- 
nant is by. a sudden disl ke of foods 
and things tasting bad. Knowing it is 
oasically coniired to the first trimester, I 
wondered if various poisonous plants 
were esoec ally likely to harm the little, 
rapidly differentiating embryo. I went 
on a detective hunt — looked at jour- 
nals, books on plant toxins, pregnancy, 
orcanogeness. rsreicgerosis. and dis- 
covered :he online services. There are 
weird things in early pregnancy. People 
usual y don'"! connect a sensitivity tc 
smells to morning sickness but look on 
it as a bizarre byproduct of the hor- 
mones of pregnancy. 
Omni: Do most women get preciarcy 
so-mess in the morning? 
Profet: It's any time of day. Some 
women do mostly in the morning, some 
mostly at night; some have a constant 
level of nausea throughout the day. 
Generally, they have strong aversions 
to foods and odors whenever they 
come in contact with them. I think the 
area prostrema, the brainstem nucleus 
that samples the bloods for toxic con- 
stituents, becomes recalibrated in the 
first trimester so that almost any food or 
odor may trigger some nausea. 

I mink some women do get it in the 
morning because tn.' i!< ■■ >\ ■ ■ ■.■■,■■-■ 
slows considerably during the first 
trimester. A. wo'-an digesl ng her meal 
when she's asleep is digesting very 
slowly, Since sleep inhibits vomiting, 
when she wakes up, she just has to 
vomit. Also, since you're not urinating 
in the night or as frequently, you're not 
flushing as much stuff out. Women may 
get sick in the morning but have the 
aversions whenever, 
Omni: Why is Ine va'iahility of this phe- 
nomenon so great? 

Proiet: Well, there's a question within 
that question: If this is an aclaotstion. 
why hasn't natural seeciior been more 
rreciso? Why has it allowed such vari- 
ability? The answer may be that bene- 
liis conferred and costs are tied. The 
greater your degree of morning sick- 
ness, the grea:er prc.ee i ion your em- 
bryo will have. But the greater the 
prelection, the greater your nutritional 
costs will be also. In extreme preg- 
nancy disease, you can't eat anything: 
you throw everything up, and you die, 
so your benefits drop to zero. At the 
other end— having no morning sick- 
ness — the cost is zero, but the beneTs 
are also zero. Your embryo is more 

Own A 


OMNI Magazine 

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likely to develop birth defects. Then 
there's this wide middle range where 
benefits and costs will trade off. 
Omni: What are the medical ramifica- 
tions of pregnancy sickness? 
Profet: Almost all pregnancy advice In 
popular books is geared toward sec- 
ond and third trimester. But because 
every major birth defect occurs in the 
first trimester, the priorities for the em- 
bryo are very different then. As it's 
forming limbs, heart, liver, eyes, the 
early embryo is most susceptible to 
damage by toxins. Its nutritional needs 
in terms of raw calories are slight. It 
we ghs only a few ounces at the end of 
three months, not even that. The body's 
priority is getting from one cell to a per- 
fectly formed three-month fetus. During 
the second and third trimesters, the 
fetus has its basic organs. While more 
susceptible than an adult, it's not terri- 
bly susceptible to toxins. At th.'s time 
the fetus is growing rapidly, so the real 
priority is nutrition, protein, getting the 
calories. Look at the dietary advice that 
women get: Eat lots of broccoli, You 
should not eat lots of broccoli in the 
first trimester. Broccoli's got wonderful 
nutrients, but it's also got many natural 
toxins. The pregnant woman finds 
broccoli nauseating for good reason. 
You don't want to inflict those toxins on 

your developing embryo. 

I get phone calls from all over the 
country. When women say they had no 
apparent pregnancy sickness whatso- 
ever, I usually don't believe it and start 
grilling them. Could she eat Chinese 
food, certain spices? Usually they 
admit, "Oh, I did Throw up on mush- 
rooms once," or, "Okay, I threw up on 
coffee," After you interrogate them, you 
find out they really did have pregnancy 
sickness. But one women didn't, and 
she ate everything — onions, spices, all 
that stuff you shouldn't during the first 
trimester. Her baby was born with a 
suite of developmental defects. She 
called me because she was two weeks 
pregnant with her second child and 
wanted to know what to do to avoid in- 
flicting toxins on her baby. 
Omni: How did you council her? 
Profet: I said go bland. Nothing bitter, 
nothing pungent. Only the freshest 
meat and dairy products. You may 
want to cook the vegetables a lot to get 
out the toxins. No barbecued anything. 
Lots of ripe fruit, but avoid unripe fruit, 
Omni. Why do we need an evolutionary 
exp ana:ion for pregnancy sickness? 
Profet: There are plenty of implications 
when you project a Pleistocene mecha- 
nism onto modern society. Pleistocene 
woman had pregnancy sickness that 

prsuy ctfeciive y deterred her from eat- 
ing toxins in her environment. She 
didn't need to know the purpose of 
morning sickness, but we do to con- 
sciously alter our behavior to avoid in- 
flicting these things on our embryos. 
We're not in a natural environment; 
we're exposed to toxins that lack the 
cues of nature, iox'cily because we by- 
pass the taste or smell receptors oy 
swallowing or injecting them. Or they're 
an evolutionary novel, like alcohol, and 
we haven't developed mechanisms to 
protect the embryo against them. Take 
chocolate. Its bean is incrediDy oitter, 
but we mask the bitterness with lots of 
sugar. That's the kind of thing you wan! 
to avoid during the first trimester. 

Also, to ovulate, you need a thresh- 
old of fat or calories. You usually can't 
iio'iceve a baby in famine conditions 
To conceive, you've stored up vitamins 
from this diversity of vegetables and 
fruit. The liver can store four months 
worth of folic acid. A foiic-acid-defi- 
clent woman has a greater risk of giv- 
ing birth to a baby with neural tube 
defects But if you routinely pig out at 
McDonald's, you're not getting suffi- 
cient levels of folic acid. You may be 
nutritionally depleted of certain things 
but still be able to conceive. 
Omni: Do we have an increased rate of 
birth defects from teratogens? 
Profet: A lot of people are born with 
nongenetic developmental birth de- 
fects, and certain natural teratogens 
cause birth defects. In one famous 
case where the family goats were graz- 
ing on lupine, which is full of toxin : both 
the kids of a pregnant goat were born 
with crooked limbs. The woman gave 
birth to a boy with these limb defects, 
and a litter of puppies was born with 
this defect. And thalidomide is a terri- 
ble teratogen, Women took a tiny bit of 
that in pill form to mask the bitterness 
If they took it within a 20-day or so time 
span when their babies' limbs were 
forming, the babies were missing 
limbs. Hamsters fed a high level of 
potatoes, which have high levels of tox- 
ins, sometimes come out with neural 
tube defects. Many naturally occurring 
plant toxins are known to cause horri- 
ble birth defects, but people haven't 
asked, "What are the thousand things 
you ate and was your baby born with 
birih defects?" 

Omni: [A squirrel comes in.] Does her 
d e'f change when she's pregnant? 
Profet: She seems a little more per- 
snickety when I think she's pregnant. 
When Peanut was a baby, she wouldn't 
touch roasted peanuts, but her mother 
would — like our babies don't like veg- 
etables but learn to tolerate them. You 
don't want a kid out grazing on plants. 
CCNT NUE'J OM page se 



The rise, fall, and afterlife of Erich von Daniken's theory of 
extraterrestrial gods 

lie imaginat 

entation of the i 

als had left physical tr; 

presence throughout the 

stance, that the giant stone faces on E; 
:oast of Chile were probably constr 
of extraterrestrials; the long Naze 
sing the plains of Peru and only vi 
.r, von Daniken said, were probably 

for their craft. 

other nations of Europe. In 1993, for 
instance, Europeans saw von Dan- 
iken star in a 25-part biweekly TV 
ries titled On the Trace of the Al- 
mighty. And touring the cities of Eu- 
ipe, von Daniken still manages to fill 
2,000-seat auditoriums. His last nine 
irs in Germany, have also ap- 

. but in the United States, Eng- 
land, and Australia. "I must be blacklisted in America," 
ays the 58-year-old author with a chuckle. 
Despite such slights, von Daniken's belief in th< 
cient-astronaut theory remains firm. "Each and 
one of my books has had to be better than the 
fore," he says. "We have had to come up with 
xonger proof each time out." 
Of note are the new translations of - - - 

Asian Indian texts von Daniken has c„ 

"They describe gigantic space cities that surrount 

our pianet thousands of years in the past," he says 
with great enthusiasm. "And from these cities, extrater- 
■nall vehicles to descend to Earth." 
Carl Sagan, a major critic of von Danik 

. not changed his mind. One of Sa- 
underlying ; 



Wr . ■-.-:&-/■ ■■■■, 

ucted great bi 
nples. Mankind did. But why? Mythology 
.-,...] say they were dealing with the teachers 
that had descended from heaven." 

Von Daniken's protestations are unlikely to sway 
his critics. "The whole and 

5 be 

3d r 


doarchaeology than any .™_. 

■ about extraterrestrial intelligence," says 

' Kendrick Frazier, editor of the Skeptical In- 

anybody ' 



jires worldwide, adds I don't leave fan. 


Los Angeles is more than 
the City of Angels — it's 
'so the city of vampires, 
t's theclaii 

ologist Stephen Kap- 

: blood several tir 
" Kaplan stat 


When the Mars ObS' 

it mum last August, 

tanks? Protest 

the Jet Propulsion Labora- 

blacked out tl 

V, iTtll -i 

isua! system is 



You're a woman, and it's 

time oi the month. 
You steel yourself for 

t's probably in s 
bloating, cramps, mood 
swings . . . and an attack 
by your pet iguana? 

According to Fredrir i 
Frye, former clinical 
fessor of medicine & 
University of Caiiforn 

Benton has been at- tained as juver 

tacked by her 40-inch-long notes, and ma 

iguana, Rocky, whose ered with their 

assaults occur when she's were even fed ; 

menstruating and he's table. What's r 

m mid July virtually all thi 

until late October. "When I adult human i. 

open his cage door, Rocky not part of the 


that become sexually 

aroused enough to attack me down," says Bent- 

the women when their on. "If I try to pull away, 

monthly menstrual periods he'll bite. If I become 

begin or when they submissive, he mounts 

ulate. "Some of the n 

problem by plunging a 
pacifier into Rocky's 
mouth when he lunges at 

me, and thai calms hi 
down," she says. But Frye 
suggests the solution 
may be neutering the igua- 
na, as pet owners neu- 
ter cats and dogs. "Neu- 
tered iguanas," he s; 
"are loving and good 
Benton says she it 
consider this alternative 
for Rocky if the pacifier 
' ""n't continue to work. 

heart," she says, "when 

Take Helen L. Benton, 
secretary of the mid-Ohic 
Herpetological Society. 

l-rye's investigation of 
this incident and others 
has turned up some sur- 
prising similarities. Most of 

logra- his ult 

tographs showing "into a shrine." What's 

; in the more, he adds, "if 

a patient's we had scanned that 

!. The caption cervix upside down, 

Dies of Feces." the whole thing migl ' 


In 1989, Richard Leakey relinquished his focus on fos- 
sils to lead a campaign against elephani poaching, 
leaving ihe bulk of field research to his wife Meave, 
head of paleontology at the Nairobi Museum, and Johns 
Hopkins anatomist Alan Walker, who discovered the 
black skull at West Turkana. Leakey himself remains the 
highly visib e spc<espcson on the subject of human ori- 
gins. Origins Hsconsic'ercd. Lesleys and Roger Lewin's 
sequel to their best-selling Origins, was published by 
Doubleday in 1992, 

Leakey's approach to conserva- 
tion over the years has been as con- 
troversial as some of his fossii dis- 
coveries: Poachers' have been shot 
on sight, and he has fired hundreds 
of employees in the Kenya Game 
Department to rout corruption. He 
has received several death threats, 
been accompanied by armed body- 
guards, and has often used decoy 
vehicles to veil his movements, 
Some feel sabotage might explain 
the loss of power Leakey's Cessna 
experienced shortly after takeoff on 
June 2, 1993, with four members of 
the Kenya Wildlife Service on board. 
Leakey radioed a Mayday and 
hoped to make an emergency land- 
ing. But as he coaxed the plane toward the ground, he 
did not see "one stout old mango tree." His Cessna lost a 
wing, and two passengers were thrown out into a field as 
the plane rolled over. Everyone survived, but Leakey's leg 
bones were shattered and his feet mangled. 

One of Leakey's first visitors in the Nairobi Hospital 
was Kenya president Daniel Moi, who ordered an investi- 
gation into the crash. (No evidence of sabotage was 
found, but the cause of engine failure remains unknown,) 
As soon as Leakey was out of Intensive Care, he held 
meetings with the KWS staff in his hospital room, resisting 
the advice of friends, family, and doctors to move to a 

Br.t'sn hosp:lE : . All fearec its: hfeclcns might endanger 
Leakey's 1979 kidney transplant, a gift from His brother 
Philip. Leakey's right leg was operated on. but bacteria 
continued to work on the bones. A week later, after being 
convinced by British surgeon Dr, Christopher Coloton that 
his injuries were life threatening, Leakey was transferred 
to a hospital near Nottingham, England. A series of oper- 
ations—! ncluding bone and skin grafts— continued, but in 
July 1 993, his left leg was amputated below the knee, 

"He's been wonderful about the 
whole thing," Meave Leakey wrote. 
"Somehow he manages to keep his 
spirits up and the jokes flowing, 
even after nine weeks on his back." 
In August, he returned to Kenya in a 
wheelchair, reporting for work at his 
KWS office, Bui back in England for 
additional surgery in September, 
the decision was made to amputate 
the right leg below the knee as well. 
For a man who covered miles of 
arid terrain at a brisk pace and 
loved to swim and sail, moving 
about with two prostheses has 
posed a challenge, but recently he 
walked 100 yards on them unassist- 
ed, tossing his cane away tri- 
Another challenge is medical bills estimated at 
S25C.GO0. _eakey has no health insurance because of his 
?ra r ispiar:ed kidney, but a medical fund has been estab- 
lished by his United States representative, and movie 
rights to his life story have been optioned by Columbia 
Pictures. Whether or not the movie will feature his career 
as a fossil finder or a conservationist is unknown, but, as 
Leakey suggested in his autobiography One Life (1984), 
the script writers have several lives from which to choose. 
His skills as a pilot suggest he may have the proverbial- 
nine — another pilot who saw the wreckage told me, "It's 
unbelievable that anyone survived." — Delta Willis 



one, you don't usually work in the 
other," admits Johanson. " is been vcy 
counterproductive, and I don't think 
that's good for the science." 

At this pcint, afarensis s widey ac- 
cepted as humanity's earliest ancestor, 
even among most of Leakey's support- 
ers. But Leakey h mse-U '"emains en- 
trenched in his earlier views. In his 
latest book, Origins Reconsidered 
(1992) he writes: "A decade of debate 
convinced most anthropologists that 
Don and Tfm had, after all, been 
sc OMNI 

correct . . . but not me. I have held 
teracioL;s y tc :he ■"■ nchty oosdon ovc- 
Ins years." 'n ihe sa-e cook, Leakey 
says that he will not discuss publicly 
what actually happened to end his 
friendship with Johanson. But he 
seems to hint at having been "manipu- 
lated" into the Universe cdnfron:at'on 
and refers to the "audacious move" of 
Johanson and White in citing some of 
the discoveries of Mary Leakey— his 
own mother — in supporting their claim 
of a new species. Many believe that 
the real clincher for Richard Leakey 
was Johanscn's first book. Lucy, with 
its insider view of paleoanthropology 
and intimate, gossipy tone about the 

fielo's sta r players, the Leakey family. 
Johanson himself says, "Richard nao 
this perception that the book that I did 
and the ideas that Tim White and I 
came up with were specifically ds- 
sigred :o e~ba'rass him and his fam- 
ily. And they weren't, This was the state 
of the art at the time." 

At 50, Johanson has calmed and 
mellowed somewhat. Five years age 
he met and married Lenora, his third 
'wife, whom he cans "a very important 
guide in my life." Lenora is the seif-de- 
sc : oed "anchor and stable force in the 
family" who often talks her more volatile 
husband down from "his high stress 
points," She is also a talented under- 

A window 
with an oce&n 

Is this 
& subtle si/ggesti on 

■f'or me to 
retire ? 

Tfe© Artofc 


Sorry — 

I'm paid 

•for the realism 
cP m</ work, 
not advising 
career moves. 

But should 

I be 
concerned { 

_____ ,___,,„ 



^ c ^ 



if t/OU 


water photographer and filmmaker in 
her own right, who served as the pro- 
ducer on the second program in the' 
Nova series and as Johanson's co-au- 
thor on Ancestors, the companion book. 

Johanson fees most alive, he says, 
on expedition in Ethiopia, where he is 
affec:c:ia:e:y -mown I :sy II- o peope as 
"Lucy's father." "There s great na:cnal 
pride in Lucy." Johanson explains. 
"And of course she's back where she 
be cngs now in the national museum in 
Addis. Lucy's Ethiopian name is Din- 
quinesh, which means 'wonderful 
thing': t's a word they sometimes use 
for very special women." After being 
kepi away re so many years, he can 
hardly believe that his team was finally 
allowed back into the country to make 
so many important finds. "There are 50 
new hominic dscovehes iom Hadar in' 
just three shon iiele seasons." says Jo- 
hanson. "We have almost doubled our 
collect on now of fossil hominids. It's a 
kind of burst of discovery that we 
naven't even had time to sit down and. 
study in detail." 

Besides finding a new sfarensis s<uli 
and pariial male skele:on, what exo ie:^ 
Johanson most are the new, younger 
areas in, the Hadar tiai nis loam is oe- 
ginning to explore. Last year, anthro- 
pologist Gerry Eck struck out into the 
Gona, a place where stone tools nad 
once been unearthed back in the 
1970s. The discovery of these artifacts 
was an indication that a more sophisti- 
cated and recent ancestor of humans 
than Australopithecus may a>so have 
dwe. ed in the Hadar. But at the time of 
I nai expedition, no foss s were found. 
Now lic< has returned with a horse fos- 
sil in hand — the genus equus, which 
(as far as we know) didn't get into 
Africa until .2.3 million years ago. With 
Lucy and the First Family now firmly 
dated at 3.2 million years, that would 
mean there are fossil deposits span- 
ning almost 1 million years at Hadar— 
"ive h~:es wna: was prevcusly thought 
:o c-xis:. a remafkabte increase, "ii also 
means tnat we've go: ''ossils during the 
period when I ihink the 'missing link' 
o etwee n Australopithecus and Homo 
[later human] will be found," says Jo- 
hanson, "Someone was making nose 
stone tools, so this is a potential place 
to crack one of the big remaining ques- 
tions in human evolution." 

What makes Johanson such an ex- 
ceptional hominid finder and his expe- 
ditions so successful 9 "Don has a 
greai eye," says IHO's Bob Waiter. "He 
can find a fossil and recognize instantly 
what it is. It takes imagination, a person 
with a three-dimension a kind of mine, 
to be able to look at something lying on 
the ground a few feet away, wist it in- 


rare trait," Many of the team's finds ■ 
actually made by the local nomai 
Afars, who wander about this lar 
scape their- entire lives, The Afars kn 
the terrain int maie y: wnen they go fos- 
sil hunting, it is, in effect, \\<e locking for 
sometninc n tneir own bac<yarc. Bui ii 
was Johanson himself who spotted ihe 
first piece of the new partial male 
skeleton lying on the ground. "It was 
ulna — an elbow— which was exacdy 
the same first bone I found of Lucy." 
says Johanson. "Of course people say. 
jokingly, 'Well, elbows stick out.' " 

All me cgis: cs 'ivolvod make an 
pedition difficult to pul off. Each field 
season, Johanson's team sets up its 
own small, sell-coma'neo village on the 
banks of the Awash River. Every day. 
some 40 people must be fed, cared for. 
and protected. There's a kitchen on 
a camp nurse, and Afar natives to help 
wi:i'i no c'ic.gir.g. Gallons and ga'ions 
of river water must oe processed into 
something fit for drinking and washing. 
The science is noi '.he on y work," 
says Bill Kirnbel, director of paleoan- 
thropology at IHO, who along with Wal- 
ter bea^s mucn of ihe 'esponsibility -or 
running and organizing the camp. "' 
have a lot of ve-y differen: cjllura por- 
sonalities out there: Western scientists, 
Afar Muslims, and Chrstians fro~- the 
highlands of Ethiooia who come from 
-.ho Mnistry of Culture We all work to- 
gether, but it's a challenge to keep 
everyone happy." 

Aid the cene ilons at Hadar are d 
n :ely Trying. "It never cools down — 
you're always hot and sweating," says 
Johanson. "And then there's the 
chance of being bitten and killed by a 
snake, catching malaria, or turn' 
over in a Land Rover, almost always 
come back with some kind of illnes 
had very severe fevers in the 1970s 
that were never diagnosed. So. physi- 
cally, it takes Is toll. = But and this is 
an important but— he adds, "I love it," 
Some of the best times are at night 
when team members fnally just get to 
sit anc 'elax. listening to the African 
toads croaking ir he background and 
h ppos sounding cfl i.ostream. "A real 
intimacy develops oe _ ween people," 
■johanson reports, 'it's just an opportu- 
nity to be out there under the stars, 
smoke a cigar, and lak for two nours a 
night after dinner. When we get back 
nome. we're lucky f we have dinner to- 
ge:ner three ti-" es a yea 1 ". 

Johanson was bitten by the Africa 
bug quite early in his life. As a child, ne 

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Every time an early human fossil is 
discovered on a Johanson expe- 
dition, Tel Aviv University paleon- 
tologist Yoel Rak turns up his portable 
stereo and blasts the camp with a 
recording of Beethoven's Ninth 
Symphony. And that is just how Johan- 
son firs! learned that Rak himself had 
made an important new find.; a nearly 
complete skull of Australopithecus 
afarensis. humanity's earliest ancestor. 
It took weeks of arduous work to 
clean, identify, and glue all the hun- 
dreds of skull pieces that Rak had 
found, the barest slivers of bone prov- 
ing sometimes crucial to the recon- 
struction, The result was the 444 skull 
(named for the number oi the Hadar fossil site where it 
was found.) from a large male who died in his thirties 
some 3 million years ago. That makes 444 about 200,000 
years younger than his older "sister," Lucy, the most 
famous member of this. species. 

Scientists have had fragments of afarensis s.<jl s 
before, but this specimen is 75 to 80 percent complete, 
with upper and lower jaws, a number of teeth, much of 
the face, and the top, back, and bottom of the skull all re- 
maining. "It has very pronounced markings for substantial 

cnewirg muscles that we had no evi- 
dence of before," says Johafison, "and 
a number of teeth are worn down so 
■ heavily — right down to the dentine — 
that it suggests he was eating very 
tough, fibrous foods — that afarensis 
was mostly a plant eater." 

On first appearance, 444 is a mas- 
sive skull, but it still has the small, ape- 
like brain characteristic of afarensis. 
Johanson fears, however, that its spe- 
cial combination of features may once 
again generate intense debate as to 
the real position of this species on the 
family tree. "Some people may pick up 
on the enormous face, the large flaring 
cheekbones, and the bone shelf that 
reflects the massive size of the chewing muscles," he 
says; "and view these traits in isolation. They may sug- 
gest they are typical of only the robust branch of the 
human family [that died out] and not the one that led to 
man." But Johanson points to the fact that a number of 
later skulls on (he Homo side of the family — the one that 
did evolve Into human beings— also have massive faces 
and considerable muscle markings. "We still feel comfort- 
able," he says, "seeing afarensis as the trunk of the 
human tree."— Sharon McAuliffe 

was befric-rcQd by a remarkaele Oder 
man- a German anthropologist and 
scholar named Paul Lesser, Lesser 
was a bachelor who lived down the 
road from Johanson and his mother in 
Hartford, Connecticut, and became, in 
Johanson's words, "my mentor, my sur- 
•ogste fafier." jJchanson's own father 
had died when he was just two years 
old.) Johanson was fssana:ed. he re- 
calls, by Lesser's apartment, "because 
it was really, literally, books from floor to 
ceiling in every room. Anthropology 
was scmeming totally foreign to me : 
but | got very interested in it because- I 
found books on fossils and natural his- 
tory, And Paul would go off on these 
exotic trps to Africa, so naturally I 
wanted to go and see what this place 
was like," 

Before his recent return to Ethiopia. 
Johanson devoted more than ten years 
of his life to launching the lnstiiu:e of 
Human O'igins — his own nonproft, in- 
dependent "think tank" devoted to the 
study of early origins and geochronol- 
ogy, According to Clark Howell, an an- 
thropologist at the University of 
California at 5er<eey and Jchanscns 
adviser and friend from graduate 
school on, "This was a very, very gutsy 

8-1 OMNI 

Undertaking, Johanson had a dream 
and he chased it. It was never easy for 
him, and it's still a struggle. He gave up 
a permanent, guaranteed job with a. 
paycheck every month for something 
uncertain. " Johanson describes leav- 
ing behind his curatorship at the Cleve- 
land Museum of Natural History and 
moving to California as "another one of 
"hose t'mes in my life when I stepped 
off a cliff and didn't realize how far it 
was to the bottom. But I was committed 
to the Institute and wasr": going :c turn 
around and give up." 

Today, IHO has more than 25 staff 
members and is backed oy tnc Na- 
tional Science Foundation and National 
Gsoo'Eiph c Soeie:-/ as well as a c-'ouo 
o ; wealthy cornbutors :nat induces 
Ann and Gordon' Getty of the Texas ci: 
Gettys and David H. Koch. But back in 
:\-~a ear'y 1980s. : u'c no was so nsc- 

$10. co; 
a peri 

To keep IHO successful, Johanson 
spends much o' his time in the public 
eye: giving lectures, writing popular 
scierce oooks. and, mest recertiy. 
hosting the Nova documentary series 
Since ihe eariy 1980s, with all the 
media attention surrounding his dis- 
pute with Leakey and the great suc- 
cess of his first cook. Lucy. Joharsor 
has often deer disrn ssc-c cy ! e- cw sci- 
entists as a "publicity hound" and 
''pao..il5'ize'" He minks however, that 
they miss the point, that public under- 
standing of paleoanthropology is cru- 
cial for its support. "Why should they 
fund some guy :o go o-f to Africa and 
iirc ancestors t h ai are millions of years 
old?" Johanson argues. "If people un- 
desiand the exc ternen:, Vie magic, 
the challenge of this kind of endeavor, 
they'll be more apt to back it — to em- 
orace :he idea that, yes, it does need 

In tne Nova series. Jonanson ta<es 
the audience out on one of the Hadar 
exoeot ens :o see Ihe excavation of his 
\:.o'~e male skele:on This is not a re- 
didn't take s salary for six months so creation, but real science in the hap- 
the scientists and sccre:s-ies cou : d get pening: You are there, watching; while 
paid. That is not someih ng I war: tc do oieces of the ulna are pulled from the 
again. I had very high anxiety." ground and carefully fitted together. 


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When Johanson discusses why '.hese 
ancestors walked upright (he believes 
there were reproductive advantages 
which were also associated with living 
together in social groups and food 
gsher ng) and whethe'" ater. more in- 
telligent species survived by hunting or 
scavenging, he spends several days 
walking through the woodlands in 
Soulh Africa test ng out his ideas. With 
fellow scientist Rob Blumenschine from 
Rutgers University, Johanson demon- 
strates just how feasible he thinks the 
scavenging hypothesis is: "Rob shows 
me how to break open long bones and 
get plenty of marrow out of them, a 
great source of calories and fat, and 
how it also takes intelligence to be a 
scavenger. . . . You've got to know 
where predators are and how to avoid 
them, where their kills are, and what 
kinds of things are left on those ani- 
mals. It's a lovely, romantic view that 
our ancestors were mighty hunters, but 
it looks like we really came from oppor- 
tunistic, clever little scavengers." 

When it comes to Neanderthals — the 
brawny Homo species with the heavy 
brow ridge that is often badly depicted 
in old caveman movies — and the great 
debate about whether they actually 
died out or evolved into Homo sapiens 
(modern humans), Johanson comes 

down clearly in favor of extinction. "I 
am really convinced now that Homo 
nesixisnhaiGnsis could not breed with 
Homo sapians and that they were 
eventually displaced into much less 
fertile areas by Homo sapiens moving 
into Europe after the height of the last 
Ice Ages." 

And finally, the series tackles that 
last step that made us fully human: the 
evolution of culture, For years, France 
was viewed as a kind of finishing 
school for humankind. It is the place 
where art and symbolism were d-ought 
to have first emerged, as reflected in 
the wonderful animal pictures discov- 
ered on the cave walls of Lascaux. But 
now it turns out that cave paintings 
done by Australian Aborigines date 
back 40,000 or 50,000 years— nearly 
three times older than those at Las- 
caux. Some depict human-origin 
myths; others are topographic map. ke 
pictures that show how to walk, move, 
and operate in the harsh Australian 
landscape. In the Nova series, much of 
this Australian cave art appears on film 
for the first time. "My view is no longer 
Eurocentric," says Johanson. "It's more 
global and robust. This last revolution 
happened everywhere humans went — 
in Australia, Africa, Europe, and, I think, 
Asia, if we had good caves there, This 

was a shared explosion. And as I 
:aiked w:1h archaeologists and anthro- 
pology's who deat with cave art. I be- 
came convinced that it was articulate 
symbolic interactive language, like we 
speak now, that allowed our ancestors 
to do this." 

Johanson is particularly proud of the 
look and the feel of the series as pro- 
duced by Peter Jones, the filmmaker 
also responsible for David Attenbor- 
ough's popular "Trials of Life" series. 
Johanson's series is packed with beau- 
tiful natural wildlife footage, including a 
rather dramatic lion kill during which 
Johanson and Jones come danger- 
ously close to being eaten themselves. 
"We were in an open car and our 
guide, a professional hunter, had his 
gun out," says Johanson. "And he said 
to me, 'Keep that light shining in her 
[the lion's] eyes, or she's into this car,' 
And Peter, who's behind me in the 
back seat, is saying, 'This is enough; 
we've got to stop,' while my wife, who's 
filming everything from the other car, is 
going, 'Don, that's it. Move the light a 
little. Keep rolling. Good.' " A number 
of good-looking special effects are 
used in the series to bring Lucy back 
to life. Actress Ailsa =teerk appears on 
camera in an incredibly realistic and 
(Johanson stresses) "anatomically cor- 



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rect" head-to-t.oe afarensis suit. "We 
were down at the edge of a lake filming 
Ailsa as 'she scooped up a handful of 
water, and It was almost as if I were 
back 3.2 million years ago. I realized 
~h's is the closest I'll ever get to Lucy." 

After two years of hopping planes all 
over the world -squeezing in "stand- 
ups" to camera with his research work 
in Ethiopia — he and Lenora are finally 
back home again in the Berkeley I- .;s. 
Their schedules are so hectic that after 
fiving in their house for more than a 
year, they still haven't found the time to 
put in a dining-room ignt and must eat, 
when home, by candlelight. A flagpole 
in the front yard keeps the neighbors 
alerted to their international comings 
and goings: Whenever one of the Jo- 
nansons is abroad, the other raises :rc 
flag of that country until he or she re- 
turns. Before they moved in, reports 
Lenora, "there hadn't been an Ethi- 
opan lag sold to someone in Berkley 
in probably ten years." 

When quizzed about their next oroj- 
eci together, the Johansons mention 
the possibility of another book or docu- 
mentary and their hope of soon being 
able to give something back to 
Ethiopia by setting up a school in the 
Hadar for local Afar children. They 
have both been deeply touched by the 
African people and have even ta ked 
about taking time off to join the Peace 
Corps. "It's probeoly totally ima r ac:ics- 
ble because ol my responsibi Ties 
here," Johanson admits, "but the urge, 
ihe thought, is there." Closer to home, 
Lenora brings up the idea of beginning 
their own family: "Don has been saying 
to me, 'How are you going to travel to 
Africa and have a baby? Tell me how?' 
And I said, 'Well, it's not easy, but 
women just do it.' So what did we find 
on our last trip to Lake Tanganyika but 
a young couple with a seven-month-old 
baby, making an underwater film. And 
they're living on the shores of the lake, 
and shes out diving every day. I didn't 
say a word; I just looked at him and 
smiled. "DO 

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oosiie me. "Semeihing ternble's hap- 
pened," she said, as I sat there open- 
mouthed, staring at her, "Steve told me 
to siay in Manila, but I caught the nex: 
flight out, after his. There are police- 
men after him. . . ," 

"I know," I said in a shaky voice, 
"they've arrested him But wna\'s he 
done?" She told me then anO though 
Steve was still in a lot of trouble, I 
heaved a sigh of relief. It was bad. but 
not as bad as I had first envisaged. 

They had been in a waterfront bar 
arc- Steve had had too much to drink. 
Ma r cla went to phone a taxi, to taKe 
them back to the hotel. When she re- 
turned, all hell had been let loose. It 
appeared that Steve had sudcenly ex- 
ploded in a iit of violence and had pro- 
ceeded to lay about him without 
warning. The clientele of that particular 
bar were no angels themselves and 
dockers, fishermen, and wharf rats 
began to pile into the mad gwa:ic with 
boots, fists, and one or two knives. 
Steve retaliated in kind, stepping up his 
attacks on the opposition, cracking 
heads and throwing [he smaller Fil- 
ipinos around like dolls: 

Chairs were b'oken. jaws were otj- 
Ken, mirrors were broken. There were 
throe unconscious oodics strewn aboul 
the floor and Steve was swing ng a boi- 
tle at a fourth, just as Marcia entered. 
The barman had pulled out a revolver 
and was screaming to Marcia in Taga- 
log that she'd better get her boyfrieno 
out of there, or he was going to blow 
the fucking madman's nead o". Max's 
managed to bundle Steve through the 
door and into the taxi, whereupon he 
col lap sec n moody s;lence in the cor- 
ner of the cab. 

"It's my fault," 1 said to her. "I've got 
to help him." 

Steve stood t' : al in Hong Kong, there 
being a Far East Area Criminal Court in 
K.owloon. His lawyer picked off the vari- 
ous charges against him, but he still 
ended up with "Assault with intent to 
cause grievous bodily harm." He was 
ser.-.enoed to a year in the Far East 
Central Jail, of which he would seve 
abou: eight months :he awyer said. 

So now I sit in my cell, with three 
other convicted felons for company. I 
couldn't let Steve serve his sentence: 
I'm doing it in his place. While Steve 
was out on bail we extended our illegal 
activities to swapping psyches. I am 
now in Steve's body and he in mine. It's 

rea y only fair that I do his time for him, 
when the whole :rirg was my fault any- 
way. I'm tempted at this point to quote 
".lie wo.' os at the end of A Tale of Two 
Cities — "It is a far better thing I do 
now . . ." but I can't remember the 
whole bit. 

I've taken a year's sabbatical from 
'.he university and Steve has taken my 
body to Thailand with Marcia for a long 
holiday She was a little confused at 
first but doesn't seem to mind, so long 
as I don't care and Steve is happy. 
We've explained to her what we've 
done and nave assured her that every- 
thing is fine with both of us. 

Jail is quite ntces". ng really, if you 
haven' - get a lifetime to serve, but Far 
Eas: prisons are tough. You need to be 
a hard man to survive in here. Obvi- 
ously Steve, the old Steve, would have 
been in his element being an instinc- 
tive bully, His aggressve attr.ude and 
ougnac:o..is pe''sonali 7 y would have en- 
sured he was left well alone. 

However, Steve isn't in here-— I am. I 
am fairly timid by nature and a natural 
victim, my own body heing mere sui-cd 
to an effete academic. I doubt I could 
survive on my own. The oriental thugs 
in here would destroy a mild gwaifa ke 
me in very little time at all, these Chi- 
nese tuads ane Vietnamese gangsters, 
So I borrowed another personality be- 
fore I came in: suoer mposec t uoon 
my own. It seems to work. I can scrap 
with the best of them stea their fcoo 
before they rob me of mine, int:rnida~e 
them, put "hem in their places, estab- 
:sh a pecking order with me at the top. 
They fear me for my nherently fierce 
nature, my vicious character, and either 
stay cut of my way or sue* up to me. 

VVny not? Someone's goT to be the 
kng pin so why no: me? 

With the he p ot an over aid pe'sona 
of course— that of the most belligerer: 
black drongo I could find, Yat Ho.Dd 


The Answers to 

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You want them to learn which ones 
Ihey tolerate without getting sick or 
dying. People learn to smell and taste 
gingerly like any mammal that eats a 
wide variety of vegetation. If a deer 
comes to a novel food source, it will eat 
the first bit so gently. If it doesn't get 
sick, i will come back and eat more. 
Omni. Will your theory have osychclog 
ical and social impact? 
Profet; Women have been blamed for 
fregnarcy sici-ness. For much of this 
century, severe pregnancy sickness 
was considered an oral attempt at 
abortion— a loathing of femininity, your 
husband, or sexuality, Freud did not 
help matters. In the Thirties and For- 
ties, physicians sometimes would iso- 
rfls women who vomit so excessive y in 
early pregnancy from friends and fam- 
ily in hospital rooms and take away 
their vomiting tubs so they had to vomit 
on themselves and wallow in it, Even 
up-to-date books on pregnancy that 
discuss severe vomiting say, "Think 
about what it is in your pregnancy that 
you can't stomach." Many women with 
severe pregrsney s:c<ress are treated 
n a condescending fashion by hus- 

bands or patenting pawners, like, "Oh. 
this is in her head. Sne's not cop ng 
well with her pregnancy." Women are 
told they should feel lucky if ihey nave 
almost no pregnancy sickness. Well, 
you weren't lucky : f you didn't. 
Omni: When did you start working on 

Profet: When I was seven I learned J 
was to undergo this monthly bieecirg. I 
was disgusted, net because of the 
blood, but by the design— that our 
bodies were so inefficient they couldn't 
do anything better with the blood. I 
never bought tne cxolarrJlci!. 
Omni. In a Kskl, eliko s-.a:ement. you 
credit a cat for inspiring your paper on 
menstruation by waking you up from a 
dream. What was that dream? 
Profet: Gelato was a whiny, very smart- 
cat. I loved this animal for some dumb 
reason. He'd always meow In the mid- 
dle of the night to go out and hunr. He 
was so persistent; he always won. One 
nigh! he woke me at 3:00 a.m. Earlier 
I'd had a conversation with my s.s:er 
about variability in menstrual tow. Who 
knows why— you know, sisters talking, 
And I had a vision in my dream of a 
cartoon from grade school. The girls 
watched menstruation films and boys 
sports films. The boys were always so 
because we were learning the 

■■'-■■■ 'X&L^'i . i }} h^r^^^^?^^ - _"■'-' "' - " r. 


".Better out ;na;a<-vay . . some wildlife photographers are coming." 

secre:s of nature. The films' little im- 
ages showed ovaries, the uterus: "Dur- 
ing the month, the uterus builds up this 
nice lining. But if it doesn't get a fertil- 
ized egg, then it doesn't need: that lin- 
ing, and it just comes out as blood." 

I saw the pale yellow-ovaries and 
real red lining of the uterus, and the red 
was flowing out of the cervix. But there 
were all these :my back triangles with 
po nty ups emoedced in :he urorus anc 
they were coming out with the low As 
soon as Gelato woke me up, I knew the 
clack triangles were pathogens. And. I 
said. "Oh, so that's why* and went 
back to sleep. The next morning, put- 
tering around the house, I thought, 
Didn't I have some weird dream last 
night? Then I thought, How would 
pathogens get up there; the only thu-.g 
thar gets up there /s sperm. Maybe 
gatnegens rigo on. r;i;c;~iiixs on sperm. 
In my first literature search, I found tons 
of articles. This is not some obscure 
fact — it's blatantly out there. That's why 
I cave Gola;o :.ne adnow edgment. 
Omni. Do species other than humans 

Profet: Most books say it occurs only in 
humans and higher aoes, no prcsimi- 
ans, nothing else. I suspect virtually all 
mammals menstruate. Mammals from 
many different orders nave been 
shown to menstruate if you dissect 
them at the right times. They may r sao- 
sorb the blood br just a tricKle comes 
out and is absorbed in their fur or hid- 
den In their mucus. You do vaginal or 
cervical swabs or dissect them to find 
out. Go back to trie nineteenth century 
When biologists picked their species 
and target organ and then dissected 
130 of those, and you find all these 
studies ,-.-te , £- "■"■:■ :; ;;::-::; - : ; v >eys 
or tree shrews and find, yeah, they're 
menstruating, albeit "covertly." People 
were surprised, but covert menstrua- 
tion is fundamentally the same mecha- 
nism as overt menstruation. The 
difference is m the amount of blood, 

Humans probably have the most co- 
pious degree of menstruation, and we. 
are the only species known to have 
ovulation that can't be detected except 
by modern technological methods. 
Since we have sex throughout the 
cycle, socr arte' ""ensla.ation, you're 
getvng sperm up into the uterus and 
oviducts. Well, pathogens hop on and 
can replicate many times before the 
next menstrual cycle. The cervical 
mucus is most -ecepive :o sperm dur- 
ing ovulation and least receptive post- 
ovjlatory But it's sem'-'ecepuve early in 
the cycle because your estrogen is ris- 
ing. So maybe you're getting patho- 
gens up early in the cycle, three weeks 
be'O'e your next menstruation. That's a 

long time for bacteria to replicate. So in 
humans you'd expect a large decree ;.r 
menstruation, whereas, depending on 
the species, wild animals generally 
copulate only during the few days or 
hours of the cycle in which the animals 
are in estrus. 

Omni: How do menstrual cramps and 
PMS fit into your interpretation? 
Profet: The uterus is always having 
minor contractions, because it's shed- 
ding the mucus through the vagina. 
Those contractions are more synchro- 
nized and stronger during menstrua- 
tion. That's what is thought to cause the 
cramping, With PMS and severe 
cramping, it's hard to say, Hunter-gath- 
erer women experience some anovula- 
tory cycles in their early teens, then get 
pregnant, lactate for years and have no 
menstruation, have a few cycles, get 
pregnant again, and so on. Women in 
our society undergo many menstrual 
periods and so much hormone 
buildup. We're not aware of all the sig- 
nals this chronic cycling tells the body. 
The body is saying, "Gee, is sdrneNiffig 
wrorg 7 She's gone through 32 cyces 
and she's not getting pregnant!" Does 
the body respond by increasing the 
number of receptors for different hor- 
mones because you're giving the body 
the message that you're not pregnant, 
and it's trying to change its parameters, 
recalibrate things? Some women today 
do get these dramatic premenstrual 
symptoms and terrible cramping, and 
we don't know how natural that is. 
Omni: You challenge the view in many 
cultures that menstruating women are 
"unclean." Your theory says women 
cleanse ihs'-sclvcs of oathogens intro- 
duced by dirty sperm. 
Profet: It's not like it's anyone's fault. 
The sperm may be vectors, but most of 
the pathogens they're carrying are from 
the vagina and cervix. The transfer of 
pathogens to the uterus and oviducts 
is an unavoidsoie concern tant of inter- 
nal fertilization. I'm not sure anyone 
likes menstruation. Why would they? 
But one way my theory may help is that 
many men hold a disdainful attitude to- 
ward menstruation and of women as 
having to go through this bizarre, 
waste- U, giy tning. Maybe now they'll 
have a little more respect for it, though 
I personally anticipate getting every 
menstruation joke in the book. My 
grandpa made the first one, and he's 
84 years old. 

I never set out to prove menstrua- 
tion is there for a purpose. Menstrua- 
tion has always been one of the little 
annoying things, but it's not a major 
thing in my life. Undergoing something 
often enhances your insights about it. 
But that's not a feminist perspective. Al- 

lergy is a male-female phenomenon 
: : m nlsres'.ed in '.hose anomalies, :hese 
things that on the surface don't seem 
to make sense whether they occur in 
males or females. 

Omni: How did your undergraduate 
work in physics and political philoso- 
phy lead you to research in evolution- 
ary biology? 

Profet: As an undergraduate, I wanted 
a classical philosophy training. I 
wanted to read, think, write a few pa- 
pers. Philosophy was great training for 
thinking, but I didn't feel I had the 
k i" owls dee or power to get answers. To 
i.irc'0's;ard any quest on aoout nature, 
even human nature, you really have to 
know science, because any question 
about nature is a scientific question. 
Physics is 'jxircoy elegant, a beauti- 
ful thing to understand. But I was so 
turned off by the regimentation of the 
classroom that by my last year of 
physics. I felt I was sleepwalking most 
of the time. I liked "why" questions, but 
figured the questions I liked in 
physics — like why is the speed of light 
what it is— I wouldn't have the foggiest 
idea how to solve. So I decided to read 
whatever I felt like in the universe and 
gravitated toward evolutionary biology. 
Omni: What do you hope to achieve 
with your work? 

Profet: I hope it will have major clinical 
im:ji;ca~ions but in a broader sense w. 
start to change the approach to medi- 
cine. If There's a physiological phenom- 
enon, the first question should be, 
Does it have a function? Look for the 
evidence of adaptation and then figure 
out what the function is. Only then can 
you understand whether you should 
treat the symptoms, what the costs of 
treating or not treating are, and what it 
means to have this mechanism in a 
modern society versus the Pleistocene 
environment in which it evolved. 
Omni: Does your perspective stem 
from the fact you're out of academe? 
Profet: It's because I'm not loekee ntc 
it and refuse to allow myself to be. 
Many people think what's important is 
to get the credentials. No, what's im- 
portant is the science. The way you 
judge your own life and the way you 
will be judged is by the work. When 
you'die, who's going to care what cre- 
dentials you accumulate? If you spend 
your youth getting credentials and 
you're not excited about what you're 
doing, you're missing the great time for 
science, I defied all the supposed 
rules; I have zero credentials in my 
field. I have no Ph.D. in anything. I 
don't dress or look like a professor, I 
don't give talks; I'm hermitlike. I don't 
do those normal things, but my stuff 
gets published.OO 

annrui emporium 

I Diary" o/77if WORD | 

Internationally monitored research study be- 
ing formed. Applications to participate cur- 
rently under final consideration. At close of 
Phase Alpha, qualryirg parl.c-oanis wi be 
brought, at Project expense, to California 
research HO for concluding sessions and 
debriefing. Interested U.S. candidates are 
referred to notice in OMNI Emporium, April 
1994 ■ Applicant Info Packelsvaiip.be by 
sending $3.65 for materials and evaluation. 
Anonymity required. Please use initials only. 

Ineffable WORD Diary 

A.- = ( :_" ." '_" 2MOKW1 Project 


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What's the logic of these word sequences? 

By Scot Morris 
































of Eden 





half penny 


ve see nee 

















ice cream 

an eye 






E. Chaucer 








































cinq- cents 

























upside-down cake 







te ^rss&tse 






« match'? 


















fttaesr. brothers 



A few months ago. we asken 
readers to figure out the 
logic behind a word list fhat 
negan frame, movie, clamp, 
day, mail, stop, string, 
bomb. ... II turned out that 
each word could.be paired 
wiih an alphabet letter to 
make a. common phrase: 
A-frame, B-movie..C-clamp. 
and so on. 

Above are some addition- 
al word lists. See if you 
can deduce the logic gov- 
erning each list. Let us 
know if you come up with 
any improvements on 
the specific words chosen 
for these lists. The 
answers begin next. 


list l is an "invisible alpha- 
bet" by Dmitri Borgmann. 
Leiters arc represented only 
by their sounds — an "a" 
sound in bouquet, a "b" 
sound in Peiping (now com- 
monly spelled Beijing), a , 
"c" sound in sealing, and so 
on — and do not actually 
appear in the spelling of the 
words in the list. 

List 2 is based on another 
alphabet by Borgmann 
called the "silent alphabet." 
The a is silent in foasf, 
the b is silent in doubt, the 
c is silent in indict, and 
so on. 

Lists is. the "A is for 

apple' alphabe: by Nyr 
indicior. The list reads: A 
is for apple aphid; B is for 
fippie blossom; C is for 
Apple computer; D is for 
aople Danish- and so on. 

List 4 is an English "comic 
alphabet" playing on; A 


3 for , 

;. to 

make familiar words or 
phrases. "A for 'orses" 
sounds Nko "nay lor horses" 
ir a cockney accent. Then 
comes; Before Christ; 
see for yourselt; defer pay- 
ment; Eva Peron; effer- 
vescence; chief of police; 
age for retirement; eye 
for an eye; Geoffrey Chau- 
cer; Kiefer Sutherland; 

heU for leather; emphasis; 
enforcer; overpopulation; 
pee for relief; queue for 
tickets; Arthur Ashe; Esther 
Williams: T formation; eu- 
phoria; viva la France; 
Trouble you tor a match?: 
eggs ;cr oroaklast: wife 
or misi'ess: and zee four 
Marx Brothers. 

In List 5, the letters a and 
b appear in stable; b and 
c in crab cake; c and d in 
MscDonald: and so on. 
down to z and a in pizza. 
The letters always appear in 
alphabetical order, although 
not always adjacent. 

The answer to List 6 will 
appear next month. DO 

Paranoid population. 
;V Psychotic criminals. *, 

^Power Hungry corpora 
/jrBig, Brother governme 
, Haves and have riots. . 

•■ Airierjc'a? »',-.*• 

.* ^"\ 

[ose. ,/,- 


<*#."' ^-' 

tual TJieatre could make real. 
d only you can save. ,-■ 

* .^/' '" '■■'",■■'*'',- 



Travel of tomorrow with all the drawbacks of today 

By Peter Callahan 

The Dixons were excirec 
about the "five days and 
four nights of lunar 
bliss" promised in the brochure. 
When people first started vacation- 
ing on the moon around the turn 
of the century, they brought 
back glowing reports of its breath- 
taking beauty, its pristine land- 
scapes, its wonders to behold. 
Then it became popular. 
By the time the Dixons em- 
barked on their trip to the moon, 
the shuttle set who had first 
made it trendy had moved on to 
sun-splashed Mercury, where the 
crowds were thinner and the tan- 
ning easier. In fact, among a cer- 
tain class of traveler, the moon 
was considered downright trashy, . 
a than a galactic tcu-'si 


has rsera Iseen to 

She mm, but 

he has visifed the 

Jersey shore 

once m twice, m& 

he feels sure 

it cats'! De a!! i 


trap that had long ago been 
eclipsed by nipper destinations. 
But the Dixons had ignored the 
naysayers, dismissing them as 
snobs, and set off with high 
hopes and expectations. 

"From the beginning, it was a 
nightmare," recalls Matt Dixon, an 
antique-tax-machine dealer from 
Hastings-on-Hudson, New York. 
"An asteroid shower had closed 
Armstrong Shuttleport, and we 
ended up orbiting for three days 
with nothing to do but swill the 
complimentary Tang they kept 
pushing on us." 

In the terminal, things got 
worse. "We're ddwn in the bag- 
gage area, watching all these suit- 
cases floating around," Matt's 
wife, Liz, remembers, "when we ' 
realize our luggage is missing. So 
to fill out a report, we have to 
wade through all these lunar- 
rock peddlers from the Unification 
Church, who seem to have some 
sort of monopoly going up there. 
Turns out our stuff had been 
sent to Venus." 

"Then we get to the rental 
place," Matt chimes in, "and our 
rover isn't ready. Annie, our seven- 
year-old, is whining by now— you 
know, 'This planet sucks,' and all 
that — and then she lets go of her 
doll — which I told her not to do— 
and the thing drifts away. So 
she's crying, and Liz is getting 
cranky from a nasty case of shut- 
tle lag—" 

"Excuse me?" Liz interrupts. "/ 
had the shuttle lag? You were the 
one crying about the altitude," 

"Yeah, right," Matt says, an- 
noyed, "It's always me, I'm the 
bad guy." Matt glares at his 
wife. "Anyways . . . when we fi- 
nally get to the hotel, it's like a 
zoo. It's Spring Break or some- 
thing, and the place is packed to 
the rafters — literally — with these 
spaced-out college kids chug- 
ging moonshine." 

"Why don't you tell him about 

the suits?" Liz prompts, an edge 
in her voice. 

"Oh, now thafs my fault too?" 

"Did I say it was your fault?" Liz 
asks. "Just tell him about the 
suits, dear." 

"Well, talk about a ripoff," 
Matt goes on. "It turns out you 
can't leave the hotel without 
these spacesuits. The travel 
agent forgot to mention that 
part. So we gotta rent the damn 
things, and of course they don't 
fit. Plus they got a helmet law up 
there now, so you gotta rent 
those, too, We're broke before we 
even step out of the notel." 

"So we decide to go to see the 
flag those first astronauts plant- 
ed," says Liz, "which we thought 
would be nice, seeing a part of 
history and all, And on the way 
over, Mario Andretti here drives 
right into a crater." 

"I got cut off," Matt protests. 

"Oh, c'mon," snaps Liz, "You 
■were checking out that wet-space- 
suit contest they had going by 
the side of the road." 

"Yeah, right," Matt sulks. "It's 
always me. I'm ihe bad guy. 
Blame Matt for everything." 

"Anyway," Liz continues, 
"about two ho.urs later, we finally 
get there. And guess what? 
Some lunatic has replaced the 
flag with this huge Ohio State ban- 
ner." Liz shakes her head in dis- 
gust. "Kids today . . ." 

"Basically," says Matt, his 
voice filling with bitterness and re- 
gret, "we spent all this money to 
be miserable at some cheesy re- 
sort. It was like the Jersey shore 
with weightlessness," 

"Oh, well," Liz says. "I guess 
there's always next year. I hear 
Jupiter is the new 'in' planet. Old 
Man Jagger has a place over 
there, and it's supposed to be 
real unspoiled." 

"We'll see how long that lasts," 
sighs Matt. "This whole universe 
is becoming commercialized." DQ 

Have you ever installed a phone on your wrist? 

In the .near future, no 
matter where you are, the 
nearest phone will be close 
at hand 

•Miniature. Wireless.- 
Small enough to wear qn 
your wrist. Yet powerful 
enough to reach anyone. 
Anywhere in the world. 

The strap-on telephone. 

The company tiiat will 
bring it to you is AT&T.